by Bert Pieters
“We do not tolerate hate messages! Not in real life, not in the online world!” That was the central message last Saturday in Flanders (Belgium).
The internet and social media have opened a world of opportunities and positive contacts, but at the same time the door is wide open to insults, hatred and frustration. This is evident from the figures of Unia, the Belgian Centre for Equality. In 2015 Unia received 654 reports of hate speech (2 complaints per day!). 37% of them on social media.
The Flemish campaign wants to raise awareness that hate speech is not acceptable. It is very important that people show they do not agree with hate messages! “We dare to react! How about you?” is the message of the promotional film made by students of the Vives university college.
The different partners engage themselves to show what kind of reactions are possible and desirable. And they want to encourage to think about what messages should be put offline. Sometimes a removal is necessary to create more space for facts and positive messages.
“The effect of hate speech can cut very deeply. For people individually, but also for the whole society. We should not accept this.” (Sven Gatz, Flemish minister of youth, culture and media)
The launch of the campaign took place at Kazerne Dossin. A symbolic place. During WW II this was the place where Belgian Jews and Gypsies were gathered before they left for the concentration camps. Today it is a museum about human rights and the mechanisms that once led to genocide.
Among the supporting organizations you can find youth movements, human rights organizations, schools and sport clubs. The call to join is still open.
The complete list – together with all the tools, tips and tricks – can be found here.