Pakistan calls for criminalizing hate speech’s manifestations like Islamophobia

“Hate is a threat to everyone; Combating it must be a collective effort”: Envoy

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UNITED NATIONS: Voicing serious concern over growing hate speech worldwide, Pakistan has called for a collective effort to counter its manifestation such as Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia and incitement to violence.

“Hate is a threat to everyone; Combating it must be a collective effort,” Ambassador Aamir Khan, deputy permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, said in a remarks at an event organized by Morocco in connection with the first-ever International Day for Countering Hate Speech.

Among the priority actions proposed by the Pakistani envoy was for government interventions to “domestically criminalize certain manifestations of hate speech, such as racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and incitement to violence.”

“Hate speech is on the rise worldwide, with the potential to incite violence, undermine social cohesion and tolerance based on xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, hatred and other forms of intolerance and discrimination,” Ambassador Aamir Khan warned.

“History has shown us that genocide and other atrocity crimes begin with words – there is a collective responsibility to address hate speech in the present day to prevent further violence in the future.”

He hoped that, under the umbrella of the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, bold actions twill be taken to respond to intolerant, inflammatory and prejudiced narratives that are stoking and intensify racial and religious fears, hostility and hatred.

Among other actions, the Pakistani envoy proposed were:

— To build consensus on the imperative to strengthen education, a powerful tool, to counter hate speech and set out concrete recommendations in this regards, and, .,

— Social media companies urgently review their policies, and to effectively regulate hate speech and disinformation online, an effort that would require governments and relevant technological companies to work together.

Meanwhile, at a briefing in connection with the Day, the UN Special Adviser on Genocide, Ms. Alice Nderitu, was asked by a Pakistani correspondent about rising Islamophobia in India.

“We have quite a number of situations of concern, and, of course, that’s that’s one of them,” she said.

In a message issued to mark the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said hate speech incites violence, undermines diversity and social cohesion and “threatens the common values and principles that bind us together.”

He added, “It promotes racism, xenophobia and misogyny; it dehumanizes individuals and communities; and it has a serious impact on our efforts to promote peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development.

“The internet and social media have turbocharged hate speech, enabling it to spread like wildfire across borders.” Aamir Khan stressed the need for a comprehensive assessment of the emerging threats and trends in global terrorism, including the impact of the new technologies, is vital for the success of the international community against this scourge.

While this trend is not new, he said, the international community is only slowly recognizing the magnitude of this threat, and that the recent Islamophobic terrorist attacks across the world are yet another wake-up call for the international community.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, has further exacerbated intolerance, discrimination, racism, and violence against religious minorities and immigrants, in certain parts of the world, with such terrorist groups capitalizing on the pandemic to spread hatred and conspiracy theories, including through internet and social media platforms,” the Pakistani envoy said.

The transnational threat from nationalist and supremacist groups and individuals has also increased in the backdrop of the pandemic.

The Pakistani envoy recommended greater focus of the relevant UN counter-terrorism entities on understanding the threat posed by such groups in context of global terrorism as well as for building effective counter-narratives.

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