On 22 July we commemorate the attacks in Oslo and Utoya which five years ago claimed the lives of 77 people in the name of extreme right ideology and racist hatred. The attacks inspired the creation of the No Hate Speech Movement campaign and the mobilisation of activists and partners against hate speech.
Contemporary European realities demand urgent action: only in the wake of the recent referendum in the United Kingdom, the police reported a rise by 57% in hate crime reports. In many other countries, hate crimes are underreported, not prosecuted and not punished.
“Racism isn’t an academic thing, it is a lived experience” said British comedian Ana Vidal; confirming the feeling of many victims of hate crime of being met with mistrust rather than support, with disbelief rather than acknowledgement of the experience they’ve lived through, with ignorance rather than actions to ensure justice.
Empathy with the victims and targets of hate crime is essential for democratic societies and it should inform further collective action in acknowledging the persistent expressions of racism and discrimination and the need for measures to assure equality in dignity and safety for all.