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Formulating National Strategy to Confront Hate Speech Top Priority

Muawad Mustafa Rashid

Introduction:

In May 2019, the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech were launched highlighting that a disturbing groundswell of xenophobia, racism, and intolerance is being observed around the world. Social media and other forms of communication are being exploited as platforms for bigotry. Public discourse is being weaponized for political gain with incendiary rhetoric that stigmatizes and dehumanizes minorities, migrants, refugees, women, and any so-called “other”.

Hate speech is a menace to democratic values, social stability, and peace. As a matter of principle, hate speech must be confronted at every turn and be tackled to prevent armed conflict, atrocity crimes, and terrorism, end violence against women and other serious violations of human rights, and promote peaceful, inclusive, and just societies.

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief addressed increasing limitations on freedom of expression related to religion or belief that take the form of anti-hate speech laws.

Incitement to Hatred or Violence

Violence in “the name of religion” is often manifested through targeted attacks on individuals or communities, acts of extremism or terrorism, communal violence, State repression, discriminative policies or legislation, and other types of embedded structural violence. Incidents involving hate speech, negative stereotyping, and advocacy of religious or national hatred have resulted in killings of innocent people, attacks on places of worship, and calls for reprisals. Such violence also disproportionately targets religious dissidents, members of religious minorities, converts, or non-believers.

The UN Rabat Plan of Action stresses the collective responsibility of public officials, religious and community leaders, the media, and individuals, and the need to nurture social consciousness, tolerance, mutual respect, and intercultural dialogue to prevent incitement to hatred.

Escalation of Hate Speech in Sudan:

Sudan is not an exception in terms of the escalation of hate speech a matter that requires setting policies, programs, legislation, and political will to control the political address and centrifuging hatred.

The uncontrolled political address has become a phenomenon even after December glorious Revolution by some of the forces and components of the transitional period despite the noble slogans of the revolution that promote freedom, peace, and justices besides the values of tolerance and accepting “the other” towards establishing a national state the tops the national interests.

The national and international laws indeed incriminate the hate speech and the uncontrolled political address, but those laws require political will to be applicable on the ground.

Hate speech is deep-rooted in the Sudanese culture resulted from ethnic and religious arrogance a matter that represents a real threat to national unity, cohesion, and social peace.

The ousted regime contributed to devoting the tyranny through its uncontrolled political address a matter that requires appropriate dealing with the phenomenon at all levels.

Many inter-communal clashes start as individual disputes. Civil society groups consistently identify the need for the government to take responsibility for de-escalating attacks, protecting citizens, and holding those responsible to account. Silence and lack of intervention have resulted in chronic insecurity and escalating violence.

Local groups repeatedly point to Sudan’s weak and discriminatory justice system. The perceived lack of official uptake in resolving cases drives people to take matters into their own hands, often escalating tensions and leading to cyclical patterns of violence.

The Sudanese government must take account of the whole picture, addressing legal, structural, and social change. There is a need to break down center-periphery discrimination by embracing inclusive processes that provide genuine dialogue and decision-making powers to affected groups. Critically, the government must address its weak justice system, as well as the backlog of discriminatory laws that need reforming and new laws that are necessary to give effect to international standards to promote equality and counter hate speech.

It is high time for the transitional government to formulate a national strategy to combat hate speech through reconciliation amid the political forces in coordination with public corporations and civil society organizations.

The dialogue and establishing a consensus national project will have a considerable contribution in eliminating hate speech.

The Sudanese government must take account of the whole picture, addressing legal, structural, and social change. There is a need to break down center-periphery discrimination by embracing inclusive processes that provide genuine dialogue and decision-making powers to affected groups. Critically, the government must address its weak justice system, as well as the backlog of discriminatory laws that need reforming and new laws that are necessary to give effect to international standards to promote equality and counter hate speech.

Transitional justice, if applied, could also contribute to the elimination of hate speech.

Media, educational institutions, Sofi sects, local administration leaders, dignitaries, and civil society organizations have its leading role in reducing hate speech through launching a campaign under the slogan (Together against Hate Speech) to be participated by educational institutions and media outlets to raise the awareness amid all components of the society.

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