Dubai: Tolerance is a lifestyle, but it could be one that rescues us all from online hate speech.
The battle against hate speech on social media platforms is one of the most important fights that people have to constantly face, according to experts speaking on the first day of the Arab Media Forum.
The responsibility to combat such types of social issues lies on everyone from the media, government institutes and citizens, which ranges from filtering out hateful comments online to issuing cyber laws and harsh punishments.
But when hate speech leaves the realms of the cyber world and enters into real life, experts debated on how to fight back and whether the media should revoke the terrorist’s new-found fame and shift it towards the victims.
Dr Fahad Al Shulaimi, President of Gulf Security and Peace Forum, pointed out that terrorist attacks has been constant in mainstream media that gains mixed reactions from audience members who are filled with a rush of emotions.
“When there is an attack, the media focus on the attacker, his motive, and investigate the life of the killer. But what about the victims? We should talk about the victims and their families, their hopes, and the dreams they had,” said Al Shulaimi.
“Why don’t we make the victims as the poster of each incident instead of the terrorist,” he asked.
The world started gaining an influx of provocative speech that promoted hate online from 2012-2013 and that, according to Kuwaiti TV host Mohammad Al Mulla, “was when people started talking about killing one another”.
The promotion of online dialogue
To spread the message of peace, Al Mulla said that it is vital to start an online dialogue between different sects, religions and cultures, which would in turn promote the practice of tolerance, citing the recent visit of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar and Pope Francis who participated in the Human Fraternity Meeting in Abu Dhabi last February.
“Without being explicit, the president of Turkey carried out a hate speech after the New Zealand attacks. Who gave him the authority to speak on behalf of all the Muslims? It is this kind of speech that promotes online hate,” said Al Mulla.
Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, Editor-in-Chief of AlAin.com, said he believed that the power to combat hate speech should not be left in the hands of politicians as they may have their own hidden agenda.
“Our society has automatically changed to a multicultural and multi-religious platform, which needs us to work hand-in-hand that believes in a common cause if we want to mutually co-exist,” he said.
“We also have to respect each other’s privacy and fight what divides us.”
Al Mulla agreed that a dialogue between cultures and religions is necessary and stressed that people should not fear the differences.
“Nobody should be marginalized, and a dialogue has to be developed with mutual respect,” he added.