Bigotry is not an opinion but a "crime", just as hate speech is not freedom of expression but an absolute evil

  • article
Samer Majzoub
Racism directed against individuals and societal groups of different ethnics, cultural and religious race backgrounds, based on the belief that one’s race is superior to others, has, over the centuries, led to misery, exploitation and violence. This feeling of supremacy led to the emergence of the ideology of slavery, which our world witnessed a state of disintegration during the colonial eras and the genocides that were present in many stages of ancient and modern history. 

Our Western societies are facing this very disturbing and dangerous social disease which manifests itself in various forms, sometimes in an aggressive and bloody way. 

One of the main illustrations of racism is the stereotype of the "other". It is a practice that has been seen so often on the streets of our cities and that civic organizations have voiced strong opposition. Many victims and their families have submitted formal complaints to authorities and human rights bodies in order to clear prejudices and stereotypes in the hope of achieving justice. 

Recently, there has been a sharp escalation of hate speech directed against citizens on the basis of their religious and cultural backgrounds. It came to the point that hate speech became a platform for certain political parties and even some elected officials before and during general elections. The unfortunate truth is that the scapegoat for such bigotry has always been the same citizens who continue to suffer moral and physical attacks that turn increasingly fierce. 

In fact, hate speech, which tends to be practiced by groups and individuals in certain main stream and social media, some of the advocates of the right in the political spectrum, and the extreme right in particular, as well as the populist trend, is not limited to these groups only. We have heard statements of some politicians, who seem to represent "moderate" political and social platforms, competing with their “competitors” by using some form of hate speech against a segment of their citizens on the basis of their cultures and beliefs. As if hate expression has become an electoral tool that is used simply without worrying about any objection and the consequences of such articulation on the victims of such discourses. 

The ultimate concern is that over time, the general societal consciousness becomes more tolerant of racial intolerance. It will also necessarily lead to social tension and lack of security and harmony among the people of the same society. 

Despite some political initiatives that appear to address the state of hatred, it is clear that there is a lack of decisive and practical political will at certain level to deeply address the state of hatred against the “other” and treat it from its roots. There is a real, serious need for elected officials, government agencies at all levels, and the civil society to work hand in hand and come up with a vision, goals and a clear action plan to confront this destructive philosophy. It is necessary to shed light on the danger of misuse of freedom of expression and invoking it, behind which the advocates of hatred practice the dissemination and practice of this ideology that insults humanity and threatens civil peace between societies and races. 

Hate speech should not be allowed to incite moral or physical violence against other people on the basis of their ideological, political, religious, ethnic, and sexual backgrounds. Bigotry is not an opinion but a 'crime', just as hate speech is not free speech but an absolute evil.