No Hate Speech – is it mission impossible?

Despite the popular assertion of the warmth and hospitality of Bulgarians and our pride that in the past we did not allow the deportation of Jews, apparently these virtues are a myth
Friday 5 September 2014
article translations English

Hate speech is not just a part of our daily lives, it has become a way of communication that is seamlessly tolerated by everyone. The influence of the media, some celebrities and the political figures is more than negative. Discrimination and intolerance against anyone who happens to be different than the usual are becoming larger.

In a society that accepts hate as something normal and insignificant, there are people who believe that things can change. They strive for a better world for everyone and constantly seek ways to remedy the situation. The organization United for Intercultural Action gathers precisely those people with the No Hate Speech campaign, which has gained huge popularity. The organization gathers activists, foundations, organizations and volunteers around the world with one common goal - a life without hate.

GERT foundation supports and participates in the No Hate Speech movement, which is a part of the project Young People Combating Hate Speech Online running between 2012 and 2014. The project stands for equality, dignity, human rights and diversity. It is a project against hate speech, racism and discrimination in their online expression. The whole project is a tribute to youth participation. It was born from a proposal of the youth representatives of the Advisory Council on Youth and was endorsed by the Joint Council on Youth linked to the European Commission.

The meetings and seminars of the No Hate Speech campaign combine ideas and practices from all around the world. One of the latest training seminars of the project was Wipe Out Hate, which took place in October 2013 in the Czech Republic.

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Prague-Oct.2013

Sharing experiences and discussing different issues showed that regardless of the different aspects of the problem, it exists everywhere and the fight against it is of a great importance for the social development of the youth.

Hate speech and hate crimes are not something new, but for years, especially in Bulgaria, there have been no measures taken to prevent and deal with this problem. When the hate flows online, it becomes even more unnoticeable, but whether on the Internet, traditional media or in real life, hate speech is something that unfortunately is considered normal. On this matter, the situation in Bulgaria is similar with that in Greece, Serbia, Macedonia and others. While our neighbors are addressing their requests and complaints to the authorities in Bulgaria most of the hate speech comes from the political stand and social leaders, and this is accepted as a routine. Whether church leaders are invoking for harm against the homosexuals or deputies are calling Syrian refugees “cannibals and mass murderers”, or a politician says that women are "good for other things, but not for leaders", these are all acts of discrimination and hate speech.

Despite the popular assertion of the warmth and hospitality of Bulgarians and our pride that in the past we did not allow the deportation of Jews, apparently these virtues are a myth.

In Bulgaria hate exists and remains unpunished. While in countries like Italy, France, Germany and others people hide their negative attitude towards the ones who are different from them, in Bulgaria to hate becomes more modern with each day and the act of discrimination is almost a matter of pride.

For GERT foundation young people are a main target group, so our support for the No Hate Speech movement is doubtless. As an organization for GERT it is crucial to help raise awareness at the youth towards equality in all aspects.

Working for prevention of discrimination and hate speech, our foundation and all other organizations supporting the movement are seeking to stop ignoring inequalities and don’t allow more generations to grow up in an environment of hate and violence.

Mirella Petrova

To find out more about the movement and how you can get involved, please visit http://www.nohatespeechmovement.org/ or http://www.nohate.bg/