Combatting Hate Speech and Discriminatory Discourse in MENA
Hate speech is a prejudicial speech of animosity that attacks a person or group based on religion, language, ethnic identity, disability, age, gender, or sexual orientation. Hate speech attacks, marginalizes, and antagonizes.
– Hrant Dink Foundation
In 2022, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience – Europe (ICSC-Europe) partnered with the Hrant Dink Foundation (HDF), a Site of Conscience in Turkey, to support the implementation of “Utilizing Digital Technology for Social Cohesion, Positive Messaging and Peace by Boosting Collaboration, Exchange, and Solidarity,” a project awarded to HDF by the European Union Delegation in Lebanon in December 2021.
The overall objective of the project was to promote peace and reduce discrimination in digital spaces in Turkey by using emerging technologies, and to enhance the resilience of societies in the MENA region to harmful content by exchanging know-how and collaboration in the region.
The project encompassed several activities that supported the capacity and awareness of civil society organizations (CSOs) and youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to combat hate speech and harmful speech while also promoting the employment of inclusive, pluralistic speech.
As part of the partnership, ICSC-Europe and HDF carried out the following activities under the Project’s objective to raise awareness about hate speech, discriminatory discourse and disinformation and promote rights-based, pluralistic and inclusive discourse in digital space in MENA region. These included:
- Training for MENA Sites of Conscience members on hate speech. The MENA Sites of Conscience Network gathered in Istanbul from July 20-22, 2022 to strengthen their capacities to monitor, document and raise awareness about hate speech. The training covered conceptual definitions, methodology for monitoring hate speech, and strategies to counter hate speech. The meeting specifically aimed to question the prejudices and misinformation existing in society about refugees, contribute to eliminating social polarization, and strengthen awareness and establish an inclusive language together. To see the agenda, click here and to watch a highlight of the meeting, click here.
- Training for MENA youth on hate speech. Following the workshop in Istanbul, members of the MENA Sites of Conscience Network identified 30 youth in the region who participated in five virtual workshops to increase their knowledge of hate speech, monitoring practices, and alternative and pluralistic discourse. The final online workshop presented results and lessons learned, and discussed the possible creation of a network of young activists in the region. Learn more about this activity here.
- Anti-discrimination training material. HDF’s anti-discrimination training material has been updated to make it available in the Arabic language. Case studies from different contexts of the MENA region have also been included in order to empower the capacity and awareness of the CSOs and youth in the MENA region to combat hate speech and harmful speech while also promoting the employment of inclusive, pluralistic speech.
For more information, or to get involved, please contact Justine diMayo, Program Manager for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images, unless specified, are courtesy of the Hrant Dink Foundation.