The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) has held a recent symposium in Cairo on the topic of hate speech against migrants and refugees in the media. The symposium was organised in collaboration with Egypt Media Development Program (EMDP).
In keeping with its mission to promote dialogue between cultures, civilisations, faiths, and peoples, and in the framework of its #SpreadNoHate initiative, the UNAOC symposium shed light on the various dimensions of migration in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, media coverage on the topic, and lessons learned by journalists.
“The influence of the media in shaping public opinion and in setting the agenda of public debates is crucial,” said the High Representative for UNAOC, H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. “This new #SpreadNoHate Symposium helps draft additional recommendations for preventing negative narratives against migrants and refugees and mitigating the impact of hate speech.”
UNAOC invited a group of 80 carefully selected participants. Particular emphasis was placed on engaging journalists working in the MENA region. The #SpreadNoHate Symposium also included migrants and refugees, representatives of international organisations, representatives of think-tanks, the private sector, academia, and civil society.
Radhia Achouri, director of the United Nations Information Centre in Cairo, cited the number of refugees and immigrants as 22.5 million today, up from 13-15 million in 2000.
According to Nihal Saad, chief of cabinet and spokesperson of the high representative of UNAOC, the world has witnessed the largest wave of mass migration since World War II. The UN, she said, exerted global efforts to promote the concept that “diversity enriches every society”.
Chaker Khazzal, a Palestinian author and journalist who grew up in the refugee camps of Lebanon, said the media often focus on violence committed by some immigrants while turning a blind eye to the success stories of immigrants.
The symposium drew on the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants of 19 September 2016 and on its commitment to counter hate crimes, hate speech, and racial violence. It dovetailed with the United Nations TOGETHER initiative to change negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees.
18 December 2017