»Countering Hate Speech and Far-Right Radicalism in Europe!« – An Online Course

2 Hours/Week
Arts, Media & Internet Activism, Community & Union Organizing, Contemporary Struggles
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In recent years, the increase of hate speech throughout Europe has contributed to electoral victories of nationalist parties and the radicalisation of far-right movements, fueling hate crimes and violence towards marginalised groups, as well as democracy, equality and the rule of law across the continent. The current political narrative, shaped by hate speech and far-right proponents, led national governments to make policy choices that often restrain fundamental rights of people in Europe. As illiberal democracies seem to be on the rise, we are once again moving into a period of strengthening domestic positions through demonising minority groups.

"Countering Hate Speech & Far-Right Radicalism in Europe!" is an Online Course (which took place in 2018 based on several onsite trainings that happened in March and May 2018 in the CEE region) for activists, students and passionate citizens from all over Europe who wanted to get a deep insight into hate speech and far-right radicalism to fight everyday discrimination, stigmatization and direct attacks on women, LGBTQI+, Sinti and Roma, migrants and refugees, and minority faith communities in the public space and on social media. Based on a human rights perspective, the course explored these questions and the actions that can be undertaken to effectively counter hate and promote open, diverse and inclusive societies. Participants in this online course got the opportunity to review expert content developed by European Alternatives in Cooperation with Sharing Perspectives Foundation. In addition, they were encouraged to putting their own experiences, values and perspectives on the forefront while engaging with peers through Virtual Exchange.


Week 1

In the first week, you will learn about hate speech and how it is defined by various European human rights organizations such as the ‘Council of Europe’ or the ‘European Commission against Racism’. You will also explore what the causes and consequences are of hate speech and how they are interconnected. Additionally, you will take a look at the various forms of hate speech and how hate speech is being packed for a wider public using mixed-media channels. Last but not least, you will get an understanding of how to assess cases of hate speech using a number of criteria.


Welcome to the Online Course on » Countering Hate Speech & Far-Right Radicalism in Europe!«

Welcome to the online course on » Countering Hate Speech & Far-Right Radicalism in Europe!«. Hate speech, both online and offline, is on the rise throuhgout Europe, impacting the social cohesion between communities and threatening the very basis of our democracy: freedom, equality, and dignity. Martin introduces the key questions covered in the 6-week course, and how we will explore them.


What is Hate Speech?

Hate speech is everywhere today: on the media, online, offline, in the streets and walls. Not a single day passes without us reading hateful comments on the latest music video on YouTube or hearing about the latest controversial Tweet of a politician. But what is really hate speech? How can we define it? In this video, Misheel is giving her first insights to help us to define the phenomenon.


Causes and Consequences of Hate Speech

Whatever the definition of hate speech is, this is not an abstract concept. Hate Speech has clear consequences on the everyday life of people, both on the individual and collective leel. But where does hate come from? In this video, Misheel explores the roots causes of hate speech and the multi-faceted impact it has in our society.


»No Hate Speech Movement« – Official Campaign Video

Many people across Europe have been the target of hate in multiple occasions. In this video, Europeans are sharing with us their own experience with hate speech, giving us an account of the direct impact of hate and some of the challenges fighting against it.


Forms of Hate Speech

Hate speech is often understood as only covering verbal expressions. But hate speech can take many forms. Sometimes it is very difficult to understand whether or not there is hate. Are some forms of hate worse than others? In this video, Misheel gives keys to assess and identify hate speech.


»No Hate Ninja Project« – A Story About Cats, Unicorns and Hate Speech

Internet has a dark side because it also made it easier to share hate speech. And hate speech online is only one environment where hate speech is produced, distributed, re-appropriated, and debated. Hate speech offline is not less harmful, often even online hate speech function as mirror of the hate speech offline. Within this two environments – online and offline – hate speech get packaged in various forms. This video summarises the main inputs of the first week of the course.


Week 2

Human rights are minimum standards agreed upon at the international level to ensure everyone a life of equality in dignity. Human rights also serve as a framework of negotiation. Hate speech instances are either human rights violation or contributing factors to human rights violations. In this week, we will explore what human rights are, the principles and values underpinning them, how they are protected at European level and how they apply to the internet, and are evolving with us. Further, we will discuss how to apply a human rights perspective to cases of hate speech.


What are Human Rights?

Human Rights are often considered an abstract concept, yet they are about concrete life situations and they form the very basis on which the system has been built. But why are they important and relevant to hate speech? In this video, Misheel explores the definition and characteristics of Human Rights and why they are essential to fight against hate speech.


The History and Evolution of Human Rights

“Human rights are a Western creation”; “Respect of human rights is against my traditions and culture”; “Human rights violate national sovereignty” are some often heard objections whenever discussing Human Rights. In this video, Misheel is helping us to navigate the evolution of Human Rights and to understand how they are more complex than these objections may suggest.


The Human Rights Protection System

How can we access Human Rights? And how can they be respected and implemented? Misheel explores with us the responsibilities of States in relation to human rights, the institutions ensuring that they are protected, and how Human Rights can be claimed.


European Convention on Human Rights

This video from the European Court of Human Rights recapitulates the main rights and freedoms in the Convention.


European Court of Human Rights

This video from the European Court of Human Rights explains how the Court works, describes the challenges faced by it and shows the scope of its activity through examples from the case-law. It looks at the different rights on the convention and how the Court protects Human Rights.


Week 3

Hate speech regulations across Europe Regulating hate speech is often, on one hand, seen as a controversial issue by the advocates of freedom of speech, whereas on the other hand, the regulation is also used as a censoring tool by advocates of authoritarianism. How can we draw the line between the limits of both? In week 3 we will explore the European legislation on regulating hate speech and how this is implemented in specific local contexts. This will enable participants to explore their own national legislations vis-a-vis hate speech and its implementation.


Hate Speech versus Freedom of Expression

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right. The question to which extent free expression may be practised has been debated since it was mentioned in early human rights documents. Should we label some forms of hate speech as free expression? Or should we limit freedom of expression, in order to, for example, protect targets of hate speech? In this video, Misheel is helping us to explore these questions.


What Hate Speech is, is Controversial

Identifying the intention to do harm is one of the most important tasks to define hate speech. In many cases, however, the intention of the person can be unclear, or hate speech can be implicit, which makes it very difficult to detect. In this video, Misheel explores, how the vistim’s point of view can help in clarifying the intention of the ‘perpetrator’, while highlighting the limits it poses.


»Is a New Hate Speech Law Killing German Comedy?« – BBC NEWS (Jan Bruck)

Germany is among the first countries in Europe that approved and amended a number of laws at the National level to regulate hate speech. A new law was passed by the Parliament at the end of June 2017 and came into force in early October. It is called “The Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz” and this law aimed at combating agitation and fake messages (fake news) in social networks. The law has been controversial in Germany with some saying it could lead to inadvertent censorship or curtail free speech. This video is explaining the controversy taking the examples of comedians’ experiences.


Week 4

What comes to your mind when you hear the term ‘hate speech’? Racism, discrimination, freedom of expression, political debate, identity, hate crime … these were the first that came to our mind. This week explores the place of hate speech in our current societies and how it intertwines with racism, discrimination, hate crime and narratives of various crimes. The effects of hate speech will be discussed further in terms of democratic health and human rights.


Preparing for Taking Action Against Hate Speech

Hate speech is complex and there is no “one-fits-all” responses to the phenomenon. The action depends on the instance of hate speech, our relation to that instance, what we want to achieve with our intervention and what tools we have. In this video, Martin suggests steps to prepare to take action, and gives an overview of all the possibilities that exist to fight effectively against hate speech.


A Human Rights Approach to Action

Hate speech is a violation to human rights, and any response should not reproduce hate, discrimination or violence. But what is a human rights approach to tackling hate speech in practice? In this video, Martin is explaining what are the different questions you should ask yourself to ensure your action is rooted in human rights.


Interview with Emilia Roig (Center for Intersectional Justice)

One is almost never solely privileged or marginalised. No person only belongs to one social group but has multiple identity affiliations at the same time. For example, a gay Black man working in the care business may feel related to various social groups at the same time: man, black or African culture, LGBTQI+, and care workers. The privilege of a person can then be seen at the intersection of multiple identities: being male can imply some benefits, while being gay may not. Our benefits are defined in relation to others. For example, one group is privileged, white people, while others are not, non-white people. In this video, Emilia Roig is explaining the concept of intersectionality in relation to hate speech.


Interview with Gregor Theilmeier (#IchBinHier)

In the past two decades, Internet has contributed to tighten the relationship among individuals and groups in the public sphere. For example, the Internet has enabled global activism and cross-border co-operation. At the same time, the Internet and especially social media platforms have been used as spaces and tools of hate. Although there is no sound statistics of the phenomenon, social media platforms have recognized that hateful messages disseminated online are increasingly common. In this video, Gregor Theilmeier is describing an intiative directly responding to hate speech online.


Week 5

Once you start looking critically at hate speech, a shocking discovery comes: it’s everywhere! So, what now? In this week, we explore strategies and tactics to respond and propose alternatives to hate speech. These will be grounded in a human rights framework and we shall look at examples coming from various fields. Together we will be exploring the strong and weak points of each and preparing ourselves further to take action.


»English Disco Lovers – Don’t Hate! Gyrate« – TEDxBrighton (Chris Alton)

In this TEDx episode, Chris Alton is a 23 year old artist and Quaker tells the story the English Disco Lovers (EDL), a good example of how to start campaign groups with no resources. The EDL is a subversive social movement looking to reclaim the EDL acronym, most commonly associated with the English Defence League. His intention was to make the three letter abbreviation more synonymous with disco than ‘defence’, supplanting negative connotations with positive ones. Over the past three years they have occupied various spaces online, participated in street-level demonstrations up and down the UK. The group currently run a series of club nights, where they spread their “Don’t Hate! Gyrate!” message and raise money for numerous causes.


»Scrubbing the Right – A Pensioner Cleans Up« – Deutsche Welle Documentary

In this mini-documentary of Deustche Welle, it depicts the struggle of Irmela Mensah-Schramm, a retired woman working hard against right-wing extremism. She scrubs and scrapes off stickers bearing far-right slogans and paints over graffiti. And she takes part in sit-in protests, all of which puts her at odds with the law. Her action inspired No Hate Speech Movement in Finland which used the idea for similar actions at festivals.


Gunn High School Sings Away Hate Group – Not In Our Town

This video from the Not in Our Town Movement in Kansas, show that communities can stand up to hate against LGBT communities in a peaceful and constructive way. The Gunn High School, an accepting school in Kansas, has been the victim of regular pickets by the Westboro Baptist Church, a hate group which protests near the funerals of gay people, military veterans, and disaster victim. They decided to respond to the demonstrators by showing the strength of their values and community.


»Anti-Refugee Commenters Meet Actual Refugees and Here's What the Conversation is« – Index.hu

With over 1 million readers per day, Index.hu is one of the most popular and influential Hungarian language internet portals. In this video, they invited anti-refugee Facebook commenters to Keleti railway station in Budapest, Hungary, to meet the actual refugees on whom they wrote hate comments.This video is an inspiring example of bringing people in dialogue to break stereotypes.


»This is Racism« – Campaign Video

In this video designed as part of a campaign against hate speech of Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader of Italy, the video conceptualises how oppressive narratives work against the Other. Video making, if they are well made, help support people to understand concepts that are normalising hate speech.