Saturday, 23 January 2021

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Coexistence instead of bigger walls

#SpreadNoHate, UNODC & EEAS Symposium, conference documents ©UNRIC/Cornwell

26.1.2016 – While Europe is facing important elections in 2017, hate speech and incitement to hatred is on the rise across Europe. In this context, the media is a major player.

Every day, people are being influenced by television, radio, social media and newspapers. And unfortunately, instead of delivering neutral facts, the media sometimes acts as a powerful platform for discrimination and exclusion, fostering anti-migrant and anti-refugee sentiment. “We need make positive arguments for diversity & co-existence, be more courageous when taking on extremist rhetoric”, emphasized Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

"Rise of hate speech is global phenomenon”, said Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative during her opening statement.” When one minority comes under attack, everyone’s freedom is at stake"

The UN Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) and the European Union External Action Service today hosted a Symposium on Hate Speech against Migrants and Refugees in the Media entitled #SpreadNoHate, featuring prominent speakers from both the UN as well as the EU, major media outlets and think -tanks.

#spreadnohate symposium - morning session
Morning session at the #SpreadNoHate Symposium in Brussels

“It is not about a clash of civilisation”, said Hatem Atallah, Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Foundation during the first panel debate. “We need to face a clash of ignorance.”

“What we need today is leadership, and leaders who respond to hate speech with facts”, underlined UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye.

Speakers and participants voices their opinions during the #SpreadNoHate symposium in Brussels
Speakers and participants voices their opinions during the #SpreadNoHate symposium in Brussels

His opinions were echoed by Tom Fletcher, visiting professor from New York University. “The advancement of technology has been like going from cave-painting to the atomic bomb in a very short time. An age of migration is coinciding with and era where people are increasingly divided into winners and losers”, he stated. “The biggest divide of our time will be between people who believe in coexisting, and people who believe in building bigger walls.”

Journalists set the tone and context for discussion about migration and refugees across Europe. Whether their written word creates fearfulness and uncertainty, or whether it brings optimism and reflects the potential, is not insignificant.

In an effort to counter hate speech both online and offline, the European Federation of Journalists has launched the Europe-wide campaign #MediaAgainstHate. The goal is to promote ethical standards, while maintaining respect for freedom of expression. 


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