8 December, 2015


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Category: European Action Day, Human Rights
Community Manager
12 pm

combiWritten by Abel Fernández Vidal, Infinite Opportunities Association, Sofia, Bulgaria

Click on the image to see the motion gif.

The development of communication and transmission of information is one of the special characteristics of our civilization. In the information age in which we live, messages travel at full speed by the web with little filters that help us to lend credibility to the content that we cann access. This absence of barriers has allowed the dissemination of ideas and attitudes that directly attack or belittle people for being different, causing hate speech.

LGBTQI society, gypsies, foreigners, Muslims, Jews, Afro-Americans… are often the victims of these speeches laden with stereotypes. The simplicity and repetition of these messages allow them to permeate the population easily, especially in the context of economic and social crisis.The crisis has increased the levels of inequality and social exclusion and increased the sense of threat and fear experienced by the people, which is expressed in a greater rejection of minorities and groups, which are supposed to compete for the employment, socio-economic resources or services. Migratory movements and the false idea that they represent a safety hazard for the society are breeding grounds for the propagation of such hate speech.

This speech has found in Internet a perfect channel of transmission, not only because of the anonymity and impunity that the network allows its authors. It often relies on freedom of expression – this freedom is not absolute and is limited when it collides with other rights such as equality, the right to honor or dignity and many others. The spread of these ideas is not a phenomenon which remains isolated in the network, it affects the way we live as a community, a greater society and how we look to others.

While it is true that the regulation is an instrument to contain these messages, there is another great tool: awareness, spreading the values of tolerance and human rights. This is everyone’s job. It helps us question messages that we encounter, report them when needed and it expands the rules of conduct of which we are equipped with.

My experience

Awareness campaigns are designed to cause regulatory or institutional changes and seek to change individual behavior and social norms and attitudes. Hence the need. Two months ago I started one European Voluntary Service in Bulgaria in an Organization (Infinite Opportunities Association) dedicated to raising awareness in the field of human rights and tolerance. That’s where I really discovered the true importance of such campaigns.

Prior authorization from the center, day after day we went to different schools in Sofia and other parts of the country. With students we explained, reflected, thought… about the implications of intolerance, disrespect and attributes that every human person by virtue of being, carries regardless of their place of birth, social background, color, religion, gender …. and thus to obtain a social conscience aimed at altering structures of discrimination exerted on certain social groups. Before, we form and prepare the activities and campaigns, not just those in schools conducted in person, but also those that spread by other means such as the Internet.

As the Irish Nobel Laureate George Bernard Shaw once said “all improvement is founded on tolerance“.

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