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Building competences to fight hate speech online
an article by Ana Afonso

Video: no hate speech

In the framework of the No Hate Speech Movement initiated last year by the Council of Europe, CEIPES organised last September in Palermo, Italy, a training course with young people from different European countries aimed to raise awareness and build competences to fight hate speech online. The course has received the financial support of the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

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But what is hate speech online? And why it is so important nowadays?

Hate speech online has been defined in the same way as hate speech with the only difference that it manifests online. For instance it can take the form of hate sites, videos with hateful words, social network pages against groups and people with certain characteristics, and all other available possibilities in the online world. One of the most relevant definitions of hate speech is the one by the Council of Europe Recommendation on hate speech adopted by the Committee of Ministers (1997):

"shall be understood as covering all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin."

The training in Palermo addressed many themes related to hate speech online. One of the most successful was the workshop on hate speech in the media aimed to raise awareness about the role of propaganda in hate speech discourse. The added value of this working session was the use of arts to express feelings, concerns and thoughts about hate speech and its main consequences. Moreover the use of a non-verbal method enhanced participants╣ expression of dreams for a better future nurturing this way a sense of empowerment and hope.

Likewise, also the simulation of a hearing of the European Human Rights Court revealed very insightful to the group. The simulation was based on one of the cases described in the Manual on hate speech developed by the Council of Europe. Throughout the training many questions were raised and are still under discussion: What are the limits of free speech? Who set these limits? What about the laws against hate speech, which may be used to create censure against political opposition or activists?

Indeed, the main work being done so far in the framework of the No Hate Speech Movement Campaign has an educational dimension. Education is, up to now, the best and more efficient solution to work against hate speech online as it offers the possibility to raise awareness and to build competences to identify and respond to hate speech. To know more about the training outcomes you may visit our webpage.


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Where do stereotypes come from?, And how can we overcome them?

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Building competences to fight hate speech online

This report was posted on November 7, 2013.