Cairo hosted on Wednesday a crucial and timely symposium titled ‘Spread no Hate: A Global Dialogue on Hate Speech against Migrants and Refugees,’ held by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).
The symposium, the fifth edition since 2015, hosted a panel of media icons from all over the world who shared similar thoughts about the topic of how we portray “the other.”
"The world has witnessed the largest wave of mass migration since World War II," explained Nihal Saad, chief of cabinet and spokesperson of the high representative of UNAOC, highlighting the global efforts of the United Nations to emphasise the point that "diversity enriches every society."
Radhia Achouri, director of the United Nations Information Centre-Cairo, says that the number of refugees and immigrants has risen from 13-15 million in 2000 to 22.5 million today.
As such, idea for the ‘Together Campaign’ came together. The campaign focuses on similarities rather than differences between peoples.
Among the various awareness activities of the campaign is the ongoing Global Migration Film Festival in Cairo, which hosts documentaries telling the stories of immigrants. Achouri says that the idea behind this is to put oneself in the place of "the other."
Achouri also says that media plays a very important role in influencing our perception of the issue of migration.
Chaker Khazzal, a Palestinian author and journalist who grew up in the refugee camps of Lebanon, says that media outlets often focus on violence committed by some immigrants while turning a blind eye to the success stories of immigrants.
“Hate speech has become omnipresent to the extent that it was propagated throughout the American elections," Lamia Rady, one of the symposium’s key speakers and head of the Arabic Language Service of the Associated Press, told Ahram Online.
"We had to report on it, we had to denounce it. There are ethics and regulations that politicians have to follow, but if the people elect someone who propagates hate speech as the president of the most influential country in the world, then we cannot stay silent,” Rady said, adding that “the media must also showcase examples tolerant speech.”