Tuesday March 19, 2019
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Mishra, Supriyo denounce ‘intolerance lobby’


Kolkata: Union ministers Kalraj Mishra and Babul Supriyo on Saturday rejected allegations about raging intolerance in the country, rubbishing the issue as politically motivated.

“India is such a country which thinks the entire world as a family. There is no place for intolerance in India,” said union Minister for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Kalraj Mishra.

Union Minister of State for Urban Development Babul Supriyo took a dig at those returning awards, saying it had become “more of a fashion” rather than a mark of protest.

“Where has this word intolerance come from? Who coined it? There have been some stray incidents, but how is the Centre to be blamed for law and order issues arising in states? The incident(s) mostly took place in non-BJP ruled states. Law and order is a state subject,” Supriyo told mediapersons here.

In an obvious reference to the Congress, Supriyo said the comments about intolerance were coming from those who were in power during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the forced exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits.

Asked about some writers and intellectuals returning their awards, he said, “Interestingly, many people did not even know the names of the people who got these awards until they returned it.”

According to Supriyo, the awards were given by autonomous and independent bodies and returning them doesn’t mean a protest against the policies of the Centre.

“The Centre has welcomed the intellectuals and artistes to come and sit at the discussion table to resolve all issues,” he said on the sidelines of a programme here.


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Curb Racism And Semitic Intolerance In The U.S: UN Human Rights Expert

She also urged governments to work with the private sector — specifically technology companies — to fight such prejudices in the digital space.

Pittsburgh, Hate, shooting
Monks pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn. VOA

Following the shooting deaths of 11 worshippers at a synagogue in the eastern United States, a U.N. human rights expert urged governments on Monday to do more to curb racist and anti-Semitic intolerance, especially online.

“That event should be a catalyst for urgent action against hate crimes, but also a reminder to fight harder against the current climate of intolerance that has made racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes and beliefs more acceptable,” U.N. Special Rapporteur Tendayi Achiume said of Saturday’s attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Achiume, whose mandate is the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, noted in her annual report that “Jews remain especially vulnerable to anti-Semitic attacks online.”

A mother and her child arrive to place flowers at a spontaneous memorial of flowers and sidewalk writing a block from the Tree of Life Synagogue. VOA

She said that Nazi and neo-Nazi groups exploit the internet to spread and incite hate because it is “largely unregulated, decentralized, cheap” and anonymous.

Achiume, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, said neo-Nazi groups are increasingly relying on the internet and social media platforms to recruit new members.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among their favorites.

Tree of Life Synagogue, racist
A person pauses in front of Stars of David with the names of those killed in a deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, in Pittsburgh. VOA

On Facebook, for example, hate groups connect with sympathetic supporters and use the platform to recruit new members, organize events and raise money for their activities. YouTube, which has over 1.5 billion viewers each month, is another critical communications tool for propaganda videos and even neo-Nazi music videos. On Twitter, according to one 2012 study cited in the special rapporteur’s report, the presence of white nationalist movements on that platform has increased by more than 600 percent.

The special rapporteur noted that while digital technology has become an integral and positive part of most people’s lives, “these developments have also aided the spread of hateful movements.”

She said in the past year, platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have banned individual users who have contributed to hate movements or threatened violence, but ensuring the removal of racist content online remains difficult.

The Tree of Life Synagogue, racist
One man pays his respect in front of a Star of David memorial for one of the 11 victims killed in the Oct. 27, 2018, synagogue shooting. VOA

Some hate groups try to get around raising red flags by using racially coded messaging, which makes it harder for social media platforms to recognize their hate speech and shut down their presence.

Achiume cited as an example the use of a cartoon character “Pepe the Frog,” which was appropriated by members of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups and was widely displayed during a white supremacist rally in the southern U.S. city of Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

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The special rapporteur welcomed actions in several states to counter intolerance online, but cautioned it must not be used as a pretext for censorship and other abuses. She also urged governments to work with the private sector — specifically technology companies — to fight such prejudices in the digital space. (VOA)