Following the Twitter boycott in response to anti-Semitic tweets by British rapper Wiley, the IDS-led Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID) have warned that there is a wider global problem with rising and largely unchecked online hate speech against people from religious minorities.
Only two months ago, CREID had already raised the alarm over anti-Ahmadi campaign on Twitter Pakistan, including tweets by a senior government minister.
Professor Mariz Tadros, CREID Director, said, “This most recent anti-Semitic hate speech on Twitter is abhorrent, and, sadly indicative of rising anti-Semitism around the world. In our work at CREID we know that hate speech online can be inextricably linked to real-world violence and discrimination, and we’ve seen this experienced by people of all faiths and none across the world.”
CREID has been monitoring the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen an increase in online hate towards religious minorities around the world including Muslims in India, Ahmadis, Hazara Shia and Christians in Pakistan, Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as well towards Jews in Europe.
As well as documenting how Covid-19 has provided a context for a steep rise in hate speech targeted at religious minorities around the world, CREID has also been:
- Working with activists in Iraq and Pakistan to learn about real time monitoring of hate speech, and how it spreads, as well as ways to interrupt hate speech to real world discrimination feedback loops (which is how we were able to identify and respond to the sudden spike in anti-Ahmadi content on Twitter and Facebook in April/May 2020
- Working with young people from different religious and ethnic groups in Iraq and Pakistan on how to counter hate speech and generate positive messages on pluralism and social cohesion
Recommendations for tackling online hate speech
- Governments, human rights organisations and social media companies can and should ensure that countering hate speech is done effectively but that it does not come at the expense of freedom of expression
- Religious inequality, discrimination, and bigotry need to be addressed “on the ground” as well as online.
- Ensure that countering hate speech is accompanied by other measures that recognize the intertwining drivers of religious exclusion and inequality