Thursday March 21, 2019
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United in diversity, divided by hate speech


New Delhi: The Centre’s justification before the Supreme Court for retaining the penal provision for hate speeches and backing the prosecution of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for instigating animosity between Hindus and Muslims will definitely be met with some raised eyebrows. At a time when ‘intolerance’ has become the key word among politicians and leaders, the Centre’s justification aims at enforcing an embargo on those who rake up controversies through their speeches.

Hate speeches are not rare in India but if the apex court delivers a ruling favouring a penal provision, leaders like Swami, Akbaruddin Owaisi, Varun Gandhi would definitely have a food for thought before instigating people and fuelling communal tensions.

India has witnessed many violent riots fuelled by venomous speeches. However, even as common people kill and hurt each other, the leaders, who are the main culprits, do not pay a price for the backlash. When surrounded by controversy, they evade arrest citing ‘right of expression’ and that they were ‘misquoted’.

But does the ‘right of expression’ permit venomous speeches, hurting religious sentiments of communities or promote enmity?

According to Home Affairs Ministry, Indian citizens cannot spread hatred towards any community or class in the name of freedom of speech and expression as it would result in public disorder and riots. It stated that penal provisions are meant to preserve unity of the country and to prevent acrimonious forces from disrupting the harmony.

Owaisi won ‘accolades’ for his ‘objectionable’ speeches. Owaisi claimed that “the 25 crore Muslims will take care of the 100 crore Hindus if only the police was removed for 15 minutes”.

He was slapped with numerous charges including “attempting to wage war” against the Government of India. Via his fiery speeches he not only infuriated the Hindu community but his “malicious acts” outraged the religious feelings and pushed the nation towards unrest. However, his fan-following testifies that Indians are being spoon fed with the potion of intolerance by the leaders.

On the other hand, we have the Thakerays from Maharashtra who constantly harp on India being a Hindu majority nation and Muslims should migrate to Pakistan.

They too have delivered provocative speeches against  Muslims migrants from Assam and Bihar. Activists and cadres of extremist outfits like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) and Shiv Sena have a history of making provocative speeches and issuing anti-Muslim statements and threats.

Amid chants of Jai Shri Ram, the young face of BJP and the scion of Nehru-Gandhi, Varun Gandhi, in a speech at Pilibhit, threatened to cut hands and sever heads of Muslims. However, he did not have a justification behind his statement which many considered to be a publicity gimmick.

Human beings are not cruel or violent by nature but it is the vitriol that awakens the dark side of human nature and encourages them to take up arms against his countrymen. The ‘hate speeches’ blindfold the cadres and compel them to act mechanically. While the politicians try to get publicity through these speeches, it is the common people who get sacrificed at the altar of the ‘hate speeches’.

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Pakistan to Curb ‘Hate Speech’ on Social Media

According to Chaudhry, several arrests have been made this week based on misuse of social media to issue fatwas and spread extremist narrative

Following this, a National Security Committee was also held to discuss Sharif's
Pakistan Flag, wikimedia commons

The Pakistan government plans will crack down on “hate speech” on social media from next week and set up a new authority, which will enforce regulations for the digital, print and electronic media, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said here on Wednesday.

“We have created a mechanism through which we will control hate speech on social media. The problem is the digital media is taking over formal media and it is important to regulate it,” Chaudhry said.

The minister said a working group, with representatives of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other security agencies, had been set up to regulate social media platforms, Geo News reported.

The government was planning a new body, Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority, which would enforce regulations for the digital, print and electronic media.

Imran Khan, Sikh
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is seen during talks in Beijing, China. VOA

“We will monitor social media and work to eliminate fake accounts. People who violate Pakistan’s cyber laws will be prosecuted. We want to encourage discourse and debate in the Pakistani society but that is not possible if people threaten each other over differences of opinion.”

According to Chaudhry, several arrests have been made this week based on misuse of social media to issue fatwas and spread extremist narrative.

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“In the next and coming weeks, you will ensure a strict crackdown on this. People will not be allowed to vent their extremist narrative on social media.”

Meanwhile, the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors in a statement said every media category had its specific issues, nature and operating methods and handling all media categories with one single law would be akin to ignoring ground realities, reported the Express Tribune. (IANS)