What is Islamophobia?
Islamophobia is a type of hostility, prejudice, and fear aimed at Muslims. It is manifested through various means, such as threats, harassment, abuse, incitement, and intimidation. This can lead to a sense of provocation, hostility, and intolerance in both online and real-world settings. The root causes of Islamophobia are often linked to systemic and cultural racism, ideological and political factors, and religious animosity that extends beyond structural and cultural racism. Islamophobia specifically targets the symbols and signs associated with Muslims. This definition highlights the relationship between the systemic level of Islamophobia and its expression, which is triggered by the perception that the victim is Muslim. Additionally, this definition acknowledges that anti-Islamophobia can also take the form of racism, as some view Islam’s religion, traditions, and culture as a “threat” to Western values. Some experts prefer to use the term “anti-Muslim hatred” instead of “Islamophobia” to avoid the potential risk of condemning all criticism of Islam, which could infringe on free speech. It is crucial to note that, according to international human rights legislation, people, not religions, are protected, and that animosity against Islam based on one’s country of origin, race, or ethnicity may also affect non-Muslims.
The Hatred Epidemic
A recent report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief found that suspicion, discrimination, and outright hatred towards Muslims have risen to the level of an “epidemic.” (Human Rights Council 2021)
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and other alleged terrorist attacks carried out under the name of Islam, systematic suspicion against Muslims and those considered Muslims has gradually escalated and spread. Many countries and institutions have taken overly targeted measures against Muslims when dealing with security threats, believing that Muslims pose a high risk of danger and radicalization. At the same time, the widespread negative portrayal of Islam, as well as the harmful stereotypes portraying Muslims and their beliefs and culture as threats, have encouraged prejudice, animosity, and violence against Muslim people and communities, perpetuating them and even becoming normalized.
In countries where Muslims are a minority, they often face discrimination in accessing goods and services, employment, and education. In some countries, Due to xenophobic beliefs and racialized stereotypes that Muslims are a threat to national security and the rule of law, Muslims have been denied citizenship or lawful immigrant status. Muslim women make up a disproportionately high percentage of victims in hate crimes targeting Islamophobia.
The research shows that hate crimes targeting Islamophobia usually increase following uncontrollable occurrences, such as terrorist attacks and the anniversaries of such incidents.These triggering events demonstrate how Islamophobia can attribute the actions of a minority to the collective responsibility of all Muslims, or how it exacerbates inflammatory speech.
Mourners carry the body of Amir Khan, 30，https://www.equaltimes.org/across-south-asia-online-hate#.ZD0ECexBwhp
This case involves the issue of online hate speech in the South Asian region leading to real-world harm. Religious conflicts and discrimination are rampant in the region, which has caused many people to become targets of online hate speech. Yati Narsinghanand is the chief priest of a powerful temple in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and has risen rapidly as a spokesperson for the Hindu political ideology “Hindutva,” which is anti-Muslim. Millions of people have watched his inflammatory videos posted on social media platforms, some of which advocate the genocidal destruction of Muslims. Although he may be one of the most well-known hatemongers, there are numerous Indian religious leaders that encourage online hatred of minorities. According to the 2011 census, Muslims make up 14.2% of India’s population and are the country’s largest minority, making them particularly vulnerable to attacks.
Online hate speech is also rife in Pakistan, where minority Hindus, Shiites and Ahmadiyya Muslims have been targeted. Online hate speech’s recent upsurge has had an effect offline. In late 2021, Priyantha Kumara, a Christian manufacturing manager from Sri Lanka, was slain by hundreds of people,in Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan. He was allegedly targeted for taking down Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party posters bearing Koranic texts from the factory’s equipment. An enraged mob rushed the workplace after learning that he had pulled down the poster, dragged Mr. Kumala outside, beat him to death, and then set his body afire. At the same time, Hindu extremist attacks against Muslims have been violent and occasionally deadly in India over the past few years.
Hate speech and hate crime: Motivation and Consequences
I believe that freedom of speech can provide the protection for public hate speech, This can be attributed to the name ‘hate speech’ When we label communication as “hate speech,” which disparages and criticises a certain group, we subconsciously understand these words as linguistic expressions borne of prejudice and hostility towards the group. In other words, the primary goal of a speech is to communicate specific concepts. It should naturally be the thing that freedom of speech strives to safeguard as it is an expression of an idea.
This understanding has some misconceptions, which may arise from confusion with the understanding of hate crimes. Hate crimes are a key focus of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Civil Rights Program. A hate crime is “a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” (FBI) Therefore, hate crimes emphasize the perpetrator’s motive: those crimes are committed as a result of hatred.
In contrast, hate speech is simply speech that is driven by hatred, and this makes it simple to understand what it is about. However, the comparison is inappropriate. Hate crimes do focus on the motive, which is hate. In the case of hate speech, however, hate is not the motivation behind the speech. This misconception has long been unproven in the debate over hate speech regulation, making it simple to believe that regulating hate speech is all about mind control and establishing an Orwellian “thought police.” In actuality, hatred is regulated not as the driving force behind hate speech but as its effect. Hate speech is intended to stir up hatred against particular ethnic or religious groups.
Children in remote Muslim areas
The Harm of Hate Speech
According to the aforementioned, hate speech’s negative effects can be seen in its results. In Waldron’s opinion, the harm of hate speech mainly includes undermining social inclusivity and trampling on the dignity of vulnerable groups
The value of inclusivity is one that society places high value on.Our society should promote and work towards achieving that value. We are all aware that no civilisation is monolithic. Diversity is essential to society’s prosperity (Jeremy Waldron). The value of inclusivity is one that society places high value on.Our society should promote and work towards achieving that value. We are all aware that no civilisation is monolithic. Diversity is essential to society’s prosperity (Jeremy Waldron). Consequently, “Every group needs to be accepted, and society is not only theirs, but also the other people who live in it.” A vital sense of security can be given to every member of society when each group accepts the society as it is. Since it guarantees that we can live the lives we want without encountering antagonism, violence, prejudice, or exclusion from others, this sense of security might be difficult to notice in daily life.
As we all know, there is no society is singular. The prosperity of society depends on its diversity ( Jeremy Waldron). That means “Every group needs to be accepted, and society is not only theirs, but also the other people who live in it.” Every member of society might experience a crucial sense of security when each group accepts the society as it is. It’s challenging to notice this sense of security in daily life since it guarantees that we can live the lives we want without fear of antagonism, violence, prejudice, or exclusion from others.
Hate speech undercuts this inclusiveness, making it challenging to maintain the sense of security that social inclusion brings. Think about it: How can members of a community live peacefully when hate speech directed at them resonates throughout society? Muslims’ life will be significantly impacted when the adage “all Muslims are potential terrorists” gains traction in society, and they will experience dread and avoidance on all sides.Hate speech gradually undermines the sense of security provided by social inclusion until it becomes impossible for this sort of inclusion to exist. Hate speech is thus used to undermine this social security by expressing speech itself.
The current situation of social media platforms under hate speech
Online hatred has “evolved into a way of life” in recent years.
For example, recognising and addressing hate speech is an inherent issue for social media juggernauts like Meta and Google in nations like India that use various languages and dialects. Similar to many other regions of the world, Meta and Google have contracted with outside firms to identify problematic material in South Asia. These third-party companies’ content reviewers complained about inadequate training and the stress on the job that came from reading disturbing posts.
However, since individual individuals and hate groups have figured out how to modify language to dodge algorithms, the algorithms of technology companies are likewise unable to identify hate posts. For example, ‘Muslim’ turn to’ Muzlim ‘,’ Jihad turn to Jih@di ’and‘Islam ‘becomes’ Izram’, and the derogatory term “Katua” for Muslims has been changed to “K2A”. “
What can platforms do?
Social media platforms dominate the media industry but do not want to be regulated.
Most importantly, they want to continue to increase their user base to ensure business profitability (Gad Allon). For years, social media platforms have rarely deleted hate speech, often accepting posts and comments that promote racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism (Nadine Strossen).
To curb online hate speech and prevent it from turning into violence, while protecting freedom of expression, I believe that in order to decide on effective reaction plans, platforms must recognise, monitor, gather data from, and analyse trends in hate speech.
The following recommendations are key actions to address new challenges posed by viral hate speech and to resolve the offline consequences of hate speech that threaten peace, stability, and the enjoyment of human rights by all citizens.
- Collect data and adopt an open data approach while respecting individual data protection.
- Collect qualitative data on hate speech targeting individuals to better understand the scope and nature of the harm.
- Advocate for internet platform companies to improve their transparency practices.
- Risk assessment – Provide appropriate, comprehensive, and up-to-date risk assessment procedures.
- Enhance employee training (content moderation obligation).
- Strengthen the learning of artificial intelligence to identify and filter hate speech.
- Allow users to protect themselves by setting up keyword blocking to prevent harm from hate speech.
Hate speech causes one group in society to hate another group, and the resulting society will eventually split. Alternatively, in a diverse society that has already experienced conflict and division, hate speech will further tear it apart. Hate speech that occurs offline and online have no any essential distinctions. The fact that online hate speech is interactive and that its content can develop quickly makes it different from other forms of hate speech. Hatred messages can spread like viruses within hours or even minutes. If this kind of speech is allowed to develop, it will not be conducive to the formation of a good online ecological environment, and will harm personal interests, hinder social development, and jeopardize national stability. On the other hand, hate speech as a type of speech has the attribute of freedom. If it is too strictly regulated, it will not be conducive to social development and the expression of public opinion. Therefore, it is necessary to first grasp the management scale, clarify what forms of speech belong to hate speech, the channels of dissemination, and the targets, so that platforms can take targeted and effective measures to regulate hate speech on the Internet and reduce harm.
Human Right Council Forty-sixth session.(2021,April 13).Countering Islamophobia/anti-Muslim hatred to eliminate discrimination and intolerance based on religion or belief. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G21/086/49/PDF/G2108649.pdf?OpenElement
United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect.(2021). Addressing hate speech on social media: contemporary challenges. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000379177
Martin,M and Damian,T.(2022,March 2th).Regulating big tech: Policy responses to digital dominance.Oxford university press.
Jeremy,W.(2012).The Harm in Hate Speech.Harbard University Press
Yuxian, Z and Chunli H.(2019).Study on identifying and governing internet hate speech. https://wenku.baidu.com/view/e2cc2dfc00020740be1e650e52ea551811a6c9bd?fr=xueshu&_wkts_=1681647344618
Across South Asia, online hate speech is increasingly leading to real-world harm.(2022,July 13). Human Right. https://www.equaltimes.org/across-south-asia-online-hate#.ZDvoBexBwho