Pakistan on Saturday joined the international community in commemorating the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said.
“This day is an important occasion to renew global solidarity for combating hate speech which is the prime catalyst for hatred, inter-religious discord, discrimination, incitement to violence, and acts of violence against people and communities,” it added.
Pakistan has been advocating for an international framework against hate speech, disinformation and balanced approach between fundamental freedoms and responsibilities.
“The tragic hate crimes and incidents witnessed around the world are a clear verdict against those who justify hate speech, denigration and vilification of religious personalities and symbols, and derogatory remarks to hurt sentiments of minorities, as the fundamental freedom of expression or opinion,” the statement added.
“Guided by the vision of our founding fathers, Pakistan has always been at the forefront of international initiatives for promoting peace, tolerance, intercultural and inter-faith harmony and respect, both at home and abroad.”
Based on principles enshrined in the Constitution, according to the statement, the government has taken a number of steps domestically for combating hate speech whilst promoting fundamental freedoms.
Moreover, it added, judicial and administrative avenues have been strengthened in order to provide remedial measures to the victims of hate speech such as the establishment of National Commissions, effective implementation of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act, strengthening of law enforcement agencies concerned with hate speech and so on. Moreover, curbing hate speech is one of the cross-cutting themes in various National Action Plans.
“As we commemorate this day, we are particularly alarmed at the global resurgence in Islamophobia, xenophobia, hatred and acts of violence against minorities. Even as victims of violence belong to diverse religious minorities across the world, there is a disproportionate growth in hate speech and stigmatisation of Muslim communities and individuals, leading to acts of violence,” it added.
In the region, the statement said, the BJP-RSS dispensation, inspired by the extremist “Hindutva” ideology, is embarked upon a campaign to “cleanse” India of all vestiges of its Islamic heritage and making Muslims second-class citizens, even non-citizens.
Meanwhile, voicing serious concern over growing hate speech worldwide, Pakistan has called for a collective effort to counter its manifestation such as Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia and incitement to violence.
“Hate is a threat to everyone. Combating it must be a collective effort,” Ambassador Aamir Khan, Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, said in a remark at an event organised by Morocco in connection with the first-ever International Day for Countering Hate Speech.
Among the priority actions proposed by the Pakistani envoy was for government interventions to “domestically criminalise certain manifestations of hate speech, such as racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and incitement to violence.”
“Hate speech is on the rise worldwide, with the potential to incite violence, undermine social cohesion and tolerance based on xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, hatred and other forms of intolerance and discrimination,” Ambassador Aamir Khan warned.
“History has shown us that genocide and other atrocity crimes begin with words — there is a collective responsibility to address hate speech in the present day to prevent further violence in the future.”
He hoped that, under the umbrella of the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, bold actions will be taken to respond to intolerant, inflammatory and prejudiced narratives that are stoking and intensify racial and religious fears, hostility and hatred.
The Pakistani envoy proposed to build consensus on the imperative to strengthen education to counter hate speech and set out concrete recommendations in this regard.
He also stressed the need for social media companies to urgently review their policies and effectively regulate hate speech and disinformation, an effort requiring governments and relevant technological companies to work together.