– Hate speech
13.11.-20.11.2016, IYMC Oświęcim/Auschwitz
6.03.-10.03.2017, Internationales Forum Burg Liebenzell
IYMC Oświęcim/Auschwitz, Internationales Forum Burg Liebenzell
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„Learning from History: Hate Speech”
A German-Polish-Ukrainian seminar

March 6th-10th the participants of the Polish-German-Ukrainian seminar „Learning from History: Hate Speech” met for the second part of the project to talk about the problem of hate speech nowadays, its functioning on the Internet and the possibilities to counteract. This was the continuation of the seminar at the International Youth Meeting Centre in November 2016, which was dedicated to hate speech in the historical perspective as well as the mechanisms and consequences of the usage of expressions, which spread, propagate and justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hatred based on intolerance.

The whole meeting proceeded in the atmosphere of friendship, openness, respect for different opinions and points of view as well as curiosity and eagerness to gain new knowledge and develop new skills – exactly as the youth had stated in their expectations at the beginning of the seminar. Already on the first day we plunged into the topic of hate speech in the public space and discussed its consequences for individuals as well as for the society in general.

An excellent possibility to have a look at hate speech from the perspective of a person, who encounters it on an almost daily basis, was the talk with Mahmoud K., a refugee from Syria, who now lives in Germany and plans to get a Master’s degree in political sciences. The Polish, Ukrainian and German participants of the seminar were especially interested in Mahmoud’s experience as a refugee in different European countries as well as how he perceives hate speech towards refugees in the public space – in the media, on the web or in the street.

After an open discussion about hatred and a glimpse at it from the victim’s perspective, the motivation of the youth to find ways of counteracting hate speech increased even more. The following meeting with Malte Born from the “Loud Europeans” initiative was aimed at presenting an example of an action on social media, in which they try to inform people and create a pro-European narrative. Besides, they often have to deal with hate speech in commentaries to their posts on Facebook, and countering it is not always possible. “I am impressed by the initiative, because it was originated by students and functions due to their work and involvement” – noted a participant from Ukraine.

Another day of the seminar we spent in Stuttgart, where we visited the House of History and conducted field research for the project. We also managed to find time for sightseeing, communicating and discovering interesting corners of the city together. During the evening meal the participants could try regional cuisine and exchange their impression after the intensive day.

We continued our work on the topic of the seminar with a simulation of countering hate speech online – in commentaries on Facebook. The simulation helped the youth not only to try out their argumentation and discussion skills, but also to see how stereotypes and elements of hate speech may appear even in the commentaries against hate speech. We also discussed ‘trolling’ and situations, where the best strategy is to ignore and report the comment for check instead of taking an active stand.

After the meetings, discussions, workshops and simulations, the participants of the seminar used the Open Space format to gather ideas of counteracting hate speech online. They worked out five initiatives, which will shortly be presented on the Internet: a poem about hate speech in English, Polish, German, Ukrainian, and Russian, a Prezi about hate speech towards LGBT, a comic strip about hatred towards people of a different skin colour, a flash mob against hate speech under the hashtag #nohatespeechchallenge, and a blog ‘No hate’, where you can find information about the project, hate speech and different initiatives aimed at countering hate speech in all spheres of public life.

The second meeting came to an end, but not the activities against hate speech. The youth from Poland, Ukraine and Germany, who participated in the seminar, intends to continue acting against hate speech and invites everyone to join our #nohatespeechchallenge family.

The project was financially supported by the German-Polish Youth Cooperation (DPJW), “Verein zur Förderung der Internationalen Jugendbegegnungsstätte Oświęcim/Auschwitz, Wolfsburg e.V.”, and Gustav-Adolf-Gedat-Stiftung.

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Nataliia Tkachenko, MDSM

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