African Media Initiative starts new campaign against hate speech

29 September 2014, 12:00 AM

Dear Colleagues:

Greetings of peace and blessings from URI Africa.

United Religions Initiative (URI) Africa endorsed the African Media Initiative (AMI) campaign against hate speech earlier this month. 

URI Africa strongly supports this pan-African campaign against hate speech, introduced in a panel discussion in Nairobi, Kenya, as it will help to promote ethical, tolerant and inclusive journalism, as well as good media governance and responsible communications in Africa.

The launch of such a project in Africa is especially important as recent reports suggest that hate speech is on the rise across the continent.

Africa is by no means the only region where hate speech is a problem – it is a truly global issue that touches every corner of humanity and it is for this reason that URI launched its “Talking Back to Hate” campaign in 2013.

URI Africa affirmed the statement of the Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, Aidan White that “we must promote ethical, tolerant and inclusive journalism.”

White continued: “Journalists should not regurgitate hateful speech from politicians or community and religious leaders. It is a journalist’s duty to put things into context and ensure that what they are saying does not incite more hate and violence.”

As many African citizens continue to witness a surge of intolerance and hate, as well as a rise in ethnic and religious fundamentalism, the “Turn the Page on Hate Speech campaign” will serve as a call to media leaders and operators in Africa to lend their full support to turn the tide against the rise of hate speech.

Using the power of the web, the campaign will also engage thought leaders, journalists, bloggers, writers, poets, cartoonists and citizens in Africa and across the globe, with the aim of bringing the media and the public’s attention to the devastating effects of hate speech.

The campaign was shaped through a consultation process organized by the African Media Initiative (AMI) in Kigali, Rwanda, in April of this year. Media organizations and journalists’ unions, including the Ethical Journalism Network, the African Editors’ Forum, the Federation of African Journalists, and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers joined forces to launch this continent-wide campaign.

This year marks 20 years since the end of Apartheid and the Rwandan genocide. AMI, with the support of key partners, also launched a Pan-African online campaign on August 20th, with URI as a partner, aimed at putting an end to hate speech on the continent. This campaign will continue and grow over the next year, culminating in an extensive report to be shared at African Media Leaders’ Forum (AMLF) in 2015.

The campaign will culminate with three days of discussions around the theme at the annual AMLF, the largest gathering of media professionals on the continent, which this year will take place November 12-14, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

URI Africa is working in promoting the teaching of the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated” as it is a practical action and a road map to prevent hate speech in the world.

The African Media Initiative is a pan-African organisation that seeks to strengthen the continent’s private and independent media sector to promote democratic governance, social development and economic growth. It does so through a set of strategic activities aimed at transforming the media and communications landscape on the continent. AMI’s overall goal is to promote the development of pluralistic media as a necessary and critical ingredient of democratic governance, as well as economic and human development in Africa.

URI Africa strongly recognizes the power of media and looks forward to working in close partnership to promote cultures of peace, non-violence, compassion; as well as teaching the Golden Rule in Africa and the rest of the world.

May Peace Prevail on Earth.

In peace and gratitude,

Mussie Hailu

Written By

Global Envoy of URI, Continental Director for URI-Africa and URI Representative to the United Nations in Nairobi
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