Speakers at a seminar on Monday against hate speech termed education curriculum responsible for rising levels of hatred across the country particularly against religious minorities and urged expurgation of hate material to create harmony among different sections of society.
The seminar held at the launching ceremony of the campaign titled, “Bolo Zimaidari Say speak with responsibility” was organized by South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) in collaboration with Aurat Foundation (AF), Strengthening Participatory Organizations (SPO) and the SUNGI Development Foundation (SDF) in connection with International Peace Day (IPD) at the Press Club.
Speakers on the occasion included National Party (NP) President Mukhtar Bacha, Harun Sarab Diyal from the Hindu community, SAP-PK Manager Shajeel Ahmad, Barrister Hashim Raza and Shahab advocate, senior journalist Shamim Shahid, Awami National Party (ANP) leader and former member of National Assembly (MNA) Jameela Gilani and others.
Highlighting issues being faced by the non-Muslim community in the country, they regretted that the minorities were deprived of their equal human rights to the extent that they were even reluctant to raise voice for their rights.
Criticizing the lessons of hatred in schools and other institutions, they said that all the intolerance against each other, particularly minorities, was due to hate speech from different segments aimed at pitting Muslims against non-Muslims, “Time has come to raise voice against those responsible for fanning the flames of hatred”, the speakers said. They were of the opinion that removal of lessons of hate and restrictions on hate speech were imperative for the integrity of the country.
They said that democracy was the best way to eradicate hatred and create harmony, brotherhood and atmosphere of love with others. “But our rulers are too feeble to establish real democracy in the country”, they said.
Mukhtar Bacha said that issues could not be resolved with weapons. He said that it was need of the hour to review national policies, “If anyone can’t tolerate our true words, what can we do? We want education for children in a peaceful atmosphere not amidst guns,” he said.
Harun Sarab Diyal lamented that because of the fallout of the indoctrination of hate, even officials of different government departments did not pay heed to the ordeals of the minorities. “Even those working at the minorities’ affairs departments look down on the minorities even though they are supposed to be protecting and working for minorities’ rights,” Diyal said.
The speakers emphasized that use of loud speakers from different segments against each other should be banned and that state institutions should vigilantly and strictly control its use. Those involved in promoting hatred against other sects or religions must be handled according to constitution and law of the land.
Shajeel Ahmad expressed his concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in the country and said that minorities had to suffer the worst of its effects. He stressed the need to curb hate speech and promote pluralistic values in the society. He also demanded of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and other authorities to monitor social and particularly mass media in the country and discourage the increasing incidents of hate speech.