Nigeria has been selected among countries where a €1.5 million programme is underway to counter online hate speech in 2020, according to the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID).
KACIID says the initiatives for next year will be administered in its focus countries and regions, comprising Nigeria, the Arab region, Myanmar, Europe and the Central African Republic.
Faisal bin Muammaar, Secretary General of KAICIID announced the plan at an international conference organised by the Centre and attended by nearly 200 delegates and guests from all over the world, says it is intended to further align KAICIID’s activities with the United Nations Plan of Action on Hate Speech announced earlier this year.
“The advent of the digital age has magnified the effects of antisemitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and other manifestations leading to the isolation of individuals and groups on the basis of their identities, whether faith-based, gender-based or race-based.”Faisal bin Muammaar, Secretary General of KAICIID
Digital Age ‘Magnifies Online Hate Speech’
“The advent of the digital age has magnified the effects of antisemitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and other manifestations leading to the isolation of individuals and groups on the basis of their identities, whether faith-based, gender-based or race-based,” bin Muammaar says.
“The Centre aims to enhance the positive role of religious leaders and their institutions in countering hate speech and contributing to social cohesion at local and regional levels. To this end, I can announce that KAICIID is investing nearly 1.5 million Euros in 2020 towards the implementation of the recommendations and action plan agreed by this conference.”
Online Hate Speech: Inside KAICIID’s Plans
Under the plan, KAICIID’s programme to combat online hate speech in Nigeria and other focus nations will involve:
- Social media campaigns against hate speech and training for vulnerable groups such as women and people seeking refuge to counter the phenomenon.
- Supporting existing efforts and assisting in launching new national initiates to counter hate speech.
- A tailored training programme for media experts, journalists and social media influencers on the responsible use of their channels.
- And in a new initiative, the Centre will be investing a significant amount into gathering and presenting polling data to help inform and shape its programmes while at the same time improving its contribution to discussions at policy making levels.
According to the Centre, these commitments follow an allocation this year of almost € 900,000 which have also been directed at programmatic interventions dealing with hate speech and its impact on social cohesion. This allocation is in addition to amounts spent in other programmatic activities.
The announcement was made during the conference entitled “The Power of Words: The Role of Religion, Media and Policy in Countering Hate Speech,” which had keynote contributions made by the former Austrian President Heinz Fischer; Adama Dieng, Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General for the Prevention of Genocide; and Ján Figel, Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union.
During his keynote address, Fischer told delegates: “If a word can have such an impact and such relevance, we can imagine what damage hate speech can bring to a human being, to a community, to society and to the principle of peaceful dialogue and respectful cooperation.”
“I accepted this invitation with pleasure, because I am ardently against hate speech and I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of the Austrian population is supporting this position. Fighting against hate speech is an essential element of defending human rights,” the former President of Austria said.
Upsurge in Online Hate Speech
Dieng for his part expressed concern over the growth of hate speech worldwide in recent years and commended KAICIID’s work in the field. “At the United Nations we extremely value the work of KAICIID. We extremely value the convening of this first and historic conference on the power of words. We have to remember that the holocaust did not start with the gas chambers. It started much before with words. Words kill,” he said.
Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who represents the Holy See at KAICIID’s Council of Parties and is a member of the Centre’s Board was one of the high level religious leaders opening the conference.
“World peace through human fraternity is not some idealistic dream but a reality that has emerged, taken hold in concrete ways, in events such as this, fostering dialogue and understanding. KAICIID is a living example of the efforts to counter hate speech, not only through the media, but by the very experience of working together to better relations and understanding between religions,” he said.
The bulk of conference delegates were from the Arab region, where hate speech has been a major cause of division and violence. H.E Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and religious leaders representing the Arab region’s Christian, Druze, Jewish, Muslim and Yazidi communities also attended, according to the Centre.
Many of them are part of the KAICIID-supported Interreligious Platform for Dialogue and Cooperation in the Arab World. The conference also received contributions by members of organisations such as the KAICIID-supported Muslim Jewish Leadership Council (MJLC), as well as other European experts, in order to produce shared perspectives and initiatives common to both regions, the Centre says.
The conference created specialist panels of experts to discuss countering hate speech in the policy making, religious, media and educational fields. Delegates produced a special declaration and an action plan.