Namibia: hate speech plants “seeds of disunity”

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Hate speech sows the seeds of disunity, hatred and intolerance, leading to the shattering of the fabric of core human values, said President Hage Geingob.

Geingob said this Tuesday at an online global ministerial conference on the role of education in combating and building resilience against hate speech.

The UN has said hate speech is on the increase around the world, with the potential to incite violence, undermine social cohesion and tolerance, and cause psychological, emotional and physical damage, based on xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of intolerance. and discrimination.

History has shown us that genocide and other atrocious crimes begin with words. There is therefore a collective responsibility to fight hate speech today in order to prevent further violence in the future.

“This trend represents a great danger to our efforts to promote multilateralism, cooperation and the search for peaceful solutions to conflicts. Hate speech sows the seeds of disunity, hatred and intolerance, leading to the shattering of the fabric of core human values, ”Geingob said.

“I have often said that inclusiveness is synonymous with harmony, but exclusivity is synonymous with conflict. Hate speech is a catalyst for exclusivity and, therefore, a direct threat to our common values ​​of benevolence, of solidarity and compassion, ”he said.

Geingob said hate speech is a threat in societies which, if not addressed, with all seriousness, will undermine the nation’s aspirations and efforts to build a more equitable, peaceful and prosperous world for all.

“Fighting against this scourge requires determined action on our part to show solidarity,” said Geingob.

In June 2019, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched a strategy to strengthen the United Nations response to the global phenomenon of hate speech. The UN convened the World Conference of Ministers of Education on Combating Hate Speech through Education, which took place on October 26, 2021.

Geingob said Namibia, out of its history of suffering under the pernicious apartheid system, has embarked on the path of national reconciliation to independence.

“We believe that unity is where our strength lies, and it is by pursuing inclusive policies that we will build strong processes, systems and institutions that instill trust, confidence and cooperation in our efforts to build peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies, ”Geingob said.

“Hatred has no place in society. It distracts attention from the inherent human ability to show compassion and uplift the human spirit,” he added.

He said it is a recognized fact that education and acculturation in Namibia’s formative years is essential in shaping the life skills and attitudes we develop later in life.

“Schools and educational institutions are important microcosms for society at large,” he said.

In addition, Geingob said that educational environments offer multiple stakeholders the opportunity to employ approaches that build on learned behavior and promote social cohesion.

In addition, he said, beyond playing a leading role in developing critical thinking skills, schools also play a supporting role in modernizing attitudes.

On a personal level, Geingob said, in advocating for unity in Namibia, he has always used the analogy that building a nation is equivalent to building a house.

“You start by laying a foundation on which you build your house – one brick at a time. You finish by applying plaster and paint – until the individual bricks are no longer visible and all that is left is a sturdy, solid house. ” he said.

He said this also applies to the global context, where people can think of all ethnicities in the world as the different bricks used to build a house.

“This analogy shows how critical we are and how much value we add to the global village – this is the world we live in,” said the head of state.

Recently, hate speech, perpetuated on social media platforms, has made international headlines as these popular platforms have been accused of amplifying and fueling hate speech.

A whistleblower behind the Facebook document leak in the Wall Street Journal, Frances Haugen, revealed that the company has adopted algorithms that amplify hate speech.

“He pays his profits with our security,” Haugen said on the ’60 Minutes’ TV show.


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