Say no hate 1The “Say No to Hate! - Young People Addressing Hate Speech from an Interreligious Perspective” study session brought together Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians and Young people of all different backgrounds together in the beautiful city of Budapest, 29 June-6 July 2014,  to address the problem of hate speech. The study session was organized in partnership between the Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe (EYCE), Forum of Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO), Religions for Peace, European Interfaith Youth Network (RfP-EIYN) and supported by the Council of Europe. The study session aimed to empower young people from various religious and non-religious communities to effectively address and respond to hate speech. The sessions informed participants of key facts and figures and ways to analyze hate speech. Through dialogue and research, participants were able to develop their critical thinking skills as well as looking at ways to creatively respond to Hate Speech both on and offline. The session provided a space for sharing good practice and a safe forum for intercultural and interreligious sharing and exchange. 

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To achieve this aim, participants explored the terms and concepts linked to the issues; hate, love, forgiveness and dignity. This enabled participants to explore the origins, definitions and consequences of hate speech and how it is manifested. When focusing on the interreligious perspective, participants discussed the role of the various faith communities and how they are viewed in the media and online. Groups were given the task of critically analyzing different religious texts such as the Bhagwad Gita, Torah, New Testament and the Quran to determine the context and the message. Participants found this particularly challenging as they weren’t given the context to these verses, participants concluded that picking out parts from religious texts or “Cherry picking” can be dangerous or a key contributor towards hate speech.  Faith communities could work within and outside their organisations to prevent misinterpretations whilst being a resource for interpretation and understanding context.

 

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Throughout the week, participants heard from the guest speaker,Dr. AbdoolKarim Vaklil, who offered a valuable insight into the framework within the society, which implies the difficulty of accepting “the other”. Through the concrete example of Islamophobia, he discussed the necessity to constantly re-conceptualise the world or society to how we see it, once a new movement emerges. The power/ rights are never given away by those who have it, it has to be taken and claimed, and therefore it is always with tumult that the new movements get integrated.

Dr. Vakil highlighted that when working against racism and xenophobia, one should look beyond at the negative images in media, but look at the images and types who are accepted. The racism and xenophobia can be manifesting through those as well, and it is much more difficult to fight against something that is accepted, being a background noise, not an exceptional incident.

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There were presentations and prayers shared by the Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Christian faiths. Participants also had the chance to visit local religious communities (Frankel Synagogue, International Society of Krishna Consciousness Hare Krishna temple, Roma Community Reformed Church, and Budapest Mosque) in Budapest to explore the challenges they face in regards to hate speech, xenophobia and inclusion and how they have responded.  Not only did the study session bring together a community of young change makers but it also provided a space for individuals from diverse backgrounds to come together and share their faith and experiences which in turn, promoted the notion of creating understandings through dialogue, between different faith and cultures which can be a powerful tool in preventing hate speech.

In order to develop skills in responding to hate speech, participants had the opportunity to take part in a variety of different workshops, each offering ideas on combating hate speech and practical approaches. Workshops included humour and comedy as a tool to respond to hate speech, creative responses to hate speech, advocacy, and working with victims of hate speech. Many ideas and creative responses were shared which participants will take back to their respective communities and implement. Individuals will continue to apply what they have experienced and learnt in the session in their own communities and contexts, whilst contributing to the national “Say No to Hate Speech” campaign.

"We, the youth of different faith groups, are determined to live together in peace and mutual appreciation. We are united in the belief that it is our duty to play a crucial role in overcoming violence and striving for justice. This ideal will only be achieved through interfaith cooperation, which will be facilitated by the establishment of the European Interfaith Youth Network (EIYN)"; Geneva declaration