In the framework of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ (UNAOC) #SpreadNoHate initiative, UNAOC and the European Union (EU) will organize a one-day symposium in Brussels on Thursday 26 January 2017.
Hate speech and incitement to hatred against migrants and refugees are on the rise across Europe. In a growing number of countries, anger and polarisation characterise domestic politics, and harsh measures targeting migrant and refugee communities are put forward. This is partly due to misconceptions and prejudice in a context where communities are confronted with challenges related to the arrival of refugees and migrants with diverse backgrounds, cultures and religions.
Acts of intimidation and violence have spiked, and hate speech against migrants and refugees − and all those who are perceived as “foreigners” on the grounds of their national or ethnic origin, or of their religion and belief −, inaccurate reporting, false “data” and xenophobic slogans are intensifying. Increasingly, migrants and refugees are seen as an economic drain and a strain on public benefits. They are perceived as unable to adapt to customs and life in receiving societies, and they are associated with fears of terrorist attacks. Their positive contribution to our societies is not explained and therefore rarely absorbed.
In this context, the media is a major player. Every minute of the day people are exposed to television, radio, newspapers and social media. Every day, information from the media is influencing their thoughts, perceptions and opinions. The media is well placed to inform, communicate and connect citizens across the globe. Instead, in many cases, it acts as a powerful platform for discrimination, exclusion and the incitement to hatred and violence.
The aim of the European #SpreadNoHate symposium is to foster inclusive, open and diverse societies. Against this background, it is important to step up efforts to prevent hate speech in the media. We must acknowledge, support and amplify the work of media operators who provide accurate and objective coverage of migration issues and build balanced narratives on migrants and refugees, thereby contributing to preventing racism and xenophobia and to promote inclusion. The media’s potential to help prevent and moderate tensions needs to be examined, evaluated and, where appropriate, encouraged.
Objective of the symposium
The objective of the EU/UNAOC symposium is to provide a platform for discussion and operational conclusions on:
−Exploring how migrant voices and experiences are framed in the migration debate against the backdrop of a complex relationship between the media, politics and public opinion;
− Better understanding the triggers and mechanisms of hate speech against migrants and refugees;
− Fostering dissemination and replication of successful initiatives that have been taken to prevent negative narratives against migrants and refugees in the media;
−Exploring additional ways and means to improve the quality of media coverage about migrants and refugees, notably by promoting ethical journalism; building partnerships between media and civil society; and preventing hate speech on the Internet.
EFJ general secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez will be part of the panel 3 “Strengthening Partnerships between Media and Civil Society to Promote Balanced Narratives“.
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