19 August, 2016

Speeches Public Debate at UK national TC on HRE

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Category: Cyberbullying, Education, Human Rights
Menno Ettema
4 pm

Training UKRespect, Review, Release HRE. Report, React, Respond to hate speech

1st – 7th August 2016, London

The National Training Course on Human Rights Education sponsored by the Council of Europe, under their Human Rights Education programme, has been organised by Euro Mediterranean Resources Network, ASHA Centre, YouthLink Scotland and Universal Peace Federation – UK in cooperation with the Governmental programme on Hate Crime and Stop Hate UK, and was held from 1st to 7th August 2016 and  gathered 25 participants selected among UK based organization working with young people and human rights issue. The training explored concrete tools to be used at local and national level for tackling hate speech, promoting Human Rights education and intercultural and interfaith dialogue, and developing a better understanding of the causes, extent, forms, different targets and consequences of hate speech online and offline, especially on young people. The training also started to identify measures to prevent and report  hate speech, notably through Governmental programme on Hate Crime, the No Hate Speech Movement (NHSM) campaign.

During the course a public debate about the role of young people in combating hate speech was organised. Below are the summaries of the main inputs from that meeting.


Hate Speech and Islamaphobia

by Nabihah

As a young Muslim woman living in the UK, online hate speech and day to day incidents in the real world is a fear that affects me daily. Since 9/11, there has been growing hostility towards the Muslim community which has resulted in a rise in hate crimes, including online hate speech.

France remains in a state of emergency following the Charlie Hebdo attacks and more recently the attacks affecting Nice. Across the globe we are witnessing terror attacks taking place, which indicates the pressing need to combat extremism and hate speech that encourages and incites racial and religious hatred.

What we must do is encourage intercultural and inter-religious dialogue within communities and encourage integration of societies. We must acknowledge and work towards combating online hate speech and hate speech in any area of civil society that could aggravate an already delicate situation.

It was only yesterday afternoon that Faizah Shaheen was detained by police officers in the UK. A Thomson Airways crew member reported her for suspicious activity, while reading a book about Syria, when returning from her honeymoon in Turkey. Upon arrival into the UK, Ms Shaheen was detained by police under Schedule 7 of the terrorism act – which allows government authorities to detain individuals without ground for involvement in criminal activities, including terrorism. However, this incident may not have taken place if it was not for Ms Shaheen’s cultural identity and religion. Section 4a, a public order act states that it is a criminal offence to cause racial and/or religious harassment and distress to any persons and it is a criminal offence that can result in 2 years of imprisonment and a fine.

You may wonder what this has to do with hate speech and online hate speech. I can tell you that these rising suspicions are instigated by the rise in hate speech and these incidents add fuel to the fire, causing a vicious cycle. Since leaving the EU, Brexit may have not triggered Article 50 but it has triggered a rise in hate crimes and hate speech. In June, the National Police Chief’s Council revealed that since the results of Brexit, there was a 57% rise in hate crimes, and Tell Mama, the group who monitor hate crimes against Muslims, reported a rise especially for Muslim women in hijab.

Online hate speech normalises hate speech in society as it is a public domain, through which identities are more easily concealed. The law also has limited power and many people are not aware of the laws and entitlements that are available. Being a recent victim of religious and cultural abuse, both online and offline, I feel a lot more needs to be implemented to tackle hate speech. Just as laws are made flexible during states of emergency, it is important to make laws more flexible in order to prosecute online hate speech through cautions, as prosecutions can be a difficult task

It is not enough to log complaints but through campaigns such as the No Hate Speech Movement, we can educate people to fight against cyber hate crimes and day to day incidents. Using human rights education is key in helping to tackle hate speech and as a society we have the duty to equip our youth with the tools, knowledge and resources for advocacy. We must ensure that information, including policies, are readily available and government bodies, including the police, must work with civil society in understanding what constitutes as a hate crime.
Although there is already monitoring taking place of social media, it is important that the police and other key figures work alongside the youth by addressing concerns and briefing them on the laws that protect them, and to prosecute them if they are instigators of human rights violations, including hate speech. We must take responsibility for our words and actions so that the future generations can enjoy the privilege of freedom of expression, while being protected from hate speech.


Summary from James Cantwell, participant

In summary, taking the opportunity to speak on behalf of myself and my own views as I have done on the record as a journalist and as a representative at The Golden Wall EU Open Borders Student conference – I, as many of us do, feel very passionately and strongly that communities, national collectives and governments have the responsibility to accept and give refuge to those climate refugees who need it. As the UN and specifically the UNHCR tells, by 2050 we are looking at realistic figures of 1 billion people forced into refugee status by climate change. As yet, with the current refugee situation in Syria, and elsewhere in the MENA, my country Great Britain has given refugee to 1600 refugees which is far below the intended figure of 20000 by 2020 – and even then I strongly feel that 20000 is a petty level of support to those who are in need.

My speech, passionate and powerful for myself, touched on these issues and how my country – and others in the developed world – have the unwavering responsibility to provide sufficient support to these people. Refugees of war, or climate refugees – people in need of help are always people in need of help.

Summary from Debora, coordinator from Euromernet

In my speech I tried to share my experience as a young activist, defying all the common misconceptions about political power and social engagement in youth. I haven’t used any particular data or statistics, deciding to focus more on the personal issues instead, attempting to show how relevant activism can be in everybody’s life.

I spent the first half of the speech in fact, in demonstrating the direct and strong relationship between present and future and how this give us power, a power that is shared among all human beings and that it’s up to us to exercise, as long as we know that being passive and not taking decisions will shape our future as well and that for this reason we are responsible on how we make use of the present.

I also stressed the importance of campaigns such as the No Hate Speech Movement, which empowers young people, creating connections and giving support. I have then invited the people in the audience to ask themselves a simple question: “What am I doing?”, and to take action if they feel like they are not doing enough, because everybody can be an activist and together it’s possible to make a huge difference, all we need is to  make a step forward.


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