Al Jazeera ‘Voice of Qatar’ lectures Europe and India about ‘hate speech’

“Black Pete,” part of Dutch Christmas festivities, is an example of a conflicting view of what causes offense [EPA]

On International Human Rights Day, December 10, Al Jazeera’s human rights department held a conference on the “Role of Media in Combating Hate Speech and Discrimination”. International guests from UNESCO and the UN human rights training centre for Southwest Asia and the Arab region were among the speakers…

The conference comes in a week in which government ministers in Europe and India have faced accusations of discriminatory speech and policies.

On December 8, in Geneva, UN experts issued a call to Swedish government officials to do more to end discrimination against people of African descent.

The strongly worded appeal was launched by the Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent. The group visited Stockholm, Malmo and Lund in the first week of December, concluding: “For a country that has been perceived as having a long tradition of tolerance and openness, the relative silence around racism and racial discrimination is surprising and worrying.”

Sweden is facing “a heightened prevalence of xenophobic and racist attitudes against migrants and refugee communities despite the government’s best efforts to counter racial hate” according to the appeal.

In India, Sadvi Niranjan Jyoti, union minister for the food processing industries, asked voters on November 30, to decide “whether you want a government born of Ram, or those born illegitimately”, at a public rally for the governing Rharatiya Janata Party. As a result, the upper (legislative) house of the Indian parliament called a special session which was then suspended due to what one newspaper described as “pandemonium”…