European Council warns of rise in hate speech on internet

Strasbourg (France), July 9 (IANS) The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the European Council has warned of a “dramatic increase” in hate speech, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on the internet.
According to its annual report for 2014, published on Wednesday, the origin of this lies in the “conflicts of Middle East, violent Islamist movements and the massive influx of migrants in Europe”, Efe news agency reported.

The ECRI, created in 1994, analyses racism, xenophobia and intolerance in the states of the Council, says hate speeches spread quickly on social networks and “their audience may be broader than the written press of extremists”.

The ECRI report also noted an increase in anti-Semitism sentiments among Muslim immigrant communities, particularly among its youth.

Islamophobia “continued poisoning European society in 2014,” due to “populist politicians, who portray Muslims in general as unable or unwilling to integrate into European societies”.

Racism against black people, homophobia, transphobia and the situation of gypsies and refugees remains “worrying”, the report added.

Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland said, “We face many crises, but the growing anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism are the biggest threats of the future of Europe.”

He added, “Political leaders must take decisive action to stop this dangerous trend”.

The European body recommends member states to sign and ratify the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, dealing with criminalisation of racist and xenophobic acts committed via the internet.

The protocol of 2003 is in force in 24 of the 47 countries of the Council.

Italy, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, Hungary, Sweden and Switzerland are yet to ratify it.

Britain, Russia and Turkey have not signed it either.

Executive Secretary of the Commission, Stephanos Stavros, told journalists there was a “lack of cooperation with the United States” on the matter.

The ECRI, comprising independent experts, regularly produces thematic reports of different countries.

 

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