Report sheds light on incitement and hate speech
They Are A Danger
  • 28/12/2023
    SAM |

    Today, Thursday, SAM organization for Rights and Liberties issued a new report that shed light on the incitement and hate speech by the conflicting parties in Yemen. The report highlights the impact of the intensity of these speeches on the escalation of violence within the country, as hate speech evolves and expands to affect various aspects of life.

    The report, titled "They Are a Danger," considered hate speech as one of the major concerning issues that have emerged in the Arab media, especially in countries experiencing internal turmoil and political instability. This type of speech has become a daily presence in published, audio, and visual media, as well as in content circulated on social media platforms. It constitutes a clear violation of international conventions and relevant norms.

    The report argued that monitoring the incitement and hate speech in media outlets is of great importance, as these characteristics cannot build democracy; rather, they pose a direct and real threat to the democratic system, public freedoms, and human rights. Additionally, they serve as fundamental tools in fostering division and discord within societies, both internally and externally.

    SAM stated that the armed political conflict over power in Yemen, both in the north and south, has contributed to fueling hate speech and societal division, particularly in the absence of legal reconciliation efforts that contribute to healing the national memory. The armed conflict that erupted in Yemen since 2014 has led to diversification and intensification of this discourse, as well as its increased spread. The warring parties employ racist and sectarian rhetoric to incite their followers to fight and discriminate against others.

    The report issued by SAM highlighted some of the reasons for the spread of hate speech, including the prevalence of poverty and unemployment, which have contributed to the emergence of class divisions within society and disparities in individual income levels. These factors have driven some individuals to resort to hate speech as a means to express their anger and frustration.

    The report further added that external intervention in Yemen has deepened the conflict between Yemeni parties and increased the prevalence of hate speech stemming from different cultural and intellectual backgrounds of the countries involved in Yemeni affairs. Additionally, the media openness and the establishment of satellite channels and local radio stations have contributed to fueling hate speech by adopting the perspectives of the conflicting parties in Yemen and promoting them. This has resulted in societal divisions and the proliferation of terms that promote hatred and exclusion against the opposing party.

    It explained that hate speech has become one of the key tools of the current political conflict in Yemen. The communication and media channels were deeply influenced by the state of division and violent conflict. Hate speech and mutual violence dominated the communicative discourse, serving as dangerous arenas for the conflict. Consequently, this had a significant impact on further dividing the society and promoting fragmentation.

    It highlighted that all parties involved in the conflict, since its inception, resorted to hate speech and incitement. They mobilized their intellectual, religious, and historical resources to justify their actions and delegitimize the other side. Furthermore, they filled individuals' minds with ideas of revenge, tribal conflicts, and racial divisions, which had a detrimental impact on exacerbating violations against civilians, especially children and women.

    The report continued to explain that the events in Yemen have had a direct impact on the language used in the media and the media landscape itself. The hate speech has, in turn, influenced the events themselves, fueling sectarian sentiments in particular. This exacerbation of sectarianism involves the rejection of the "other" and incitement based on characteristics such as ethnicity, color, geographic location, tribal affiliation, national origin, gender, political ideology, or religious denomination.

    The report cited the opinions of journalists regarding the chaotic media landscape in the country. The majority of media outlets are criticized for their content that is filled with hate speech and incitement to violence, leading to their inclusion in blacklists. Additionally, the concept and value of peace are absent in media legislation and professional codes of conduct that have been established for decades. This necessitates the revival of peace as a missing value and a neglected aspect in the professional performance of these media outlets and those responsible for them.

    As examples of the warring parties' use of hate speech, the report mentioned that the Houthi group promotes such discourse through various channels, including media outlets, social media platforms, mosques, schools, and summer camps. Each year, schools in areas under Houthi control are transformed into hubs for exporting violence, promoting death projects, fueling sectarianism, nurturing hate speech, and undermining social cohesion and peace.

    The report further adds that with the onset of summer, the Houthis begin unprecedented preparations and arrangements to open the doors of schools and transform them into what is known as "summer camps." These camps are described by activists and human rights defenders as factories for exporting extremist ideology. They aim to transform thousands of Yemeni children into ticking time bombs that will explode in the near future, leaving behind a tragedy among the many tragedies of the war that Yemenis have been enduring for eight years.

    SAM warned that these centers fuel violence, hatred, and rejection of coexistence among children, which is the most dangerous outcome. Children are indoctrinated with sectarian and racist rhetoric, lacking the values of coexistence and tolerance towards others. Their minds are poisoned by these ideas. Additionally, SAM added that Houthi summer camps serve as military training centers where students are taught extremist and hostile slogans during rigorous exercises. It combines combat training with the cultivation of extremist hostile ideology, keeping them as ticking time bombs and future mines that won't cease until the Houthi militia is eliminated.

    On another note, SAM highlighted the evolution of hate speech in southern Yemen, where there appears to be an interconnected relationship between real-life hatred and media and political discourse. This is evident in the repercussions of political rivalries within Yemen and attempts to divide the country by allowing political parties with religious backgrounds to control extensive regions and subjugate them under their rule. Furthermore, the subsequent events fueled by inflammatory rhetoric contribute to the destruction of social fabric and lay the foundation for a deep-rooted conflict in the long run.

    The report emphasized that supporters of the separatist movement in the south adopt a discourse filled with various forms of exclusion and driven by motives of revenge and resentment towards the "other," often manifested in anything related to the north. Northern citizens are portrayed as the cause of the calamities that have befallen the south, using a catastrophic populist language that leaves destructive effects on the social fabric. This discourse legitimizes all forms of looting and attacks on citizens' properties, making them vulnerable to violence and even death, solely based on the fact that they are northerners.

    The report also mentioned that media institutions affiliated with the internationally recognized government have slipped into the same quagmire, with the majority of them marketing a unified discourse that describes the Houthi group using various terms, including "Iranian, terrorist, Rafidite, and Persian," referring to their alliance with Iran. Additionally, certain provocative religious discourse emanating from some mosque pulpits in Taiz played a role in some recent acts of violence. Some preachers have criticized and attacked artistic and cultural events held in the city, labeling them as promoting moral corruption.

    The report further stated that there is a significant hate speech directed against the Houthis, propagated by their opponents. They are portrayed as terrorists and enemies of the nation, described with derogatory terms such as "Iran's lackeys, Majus, Rafidites, Shia of the streets," and others. Additionally, some individuals call for fighting against the Houthis, considering it as a support for Islam and a defense of religion and the companions of the Prophet. Furthermore, individuals belonging to the Houthi group are accused of being misguided, deviant, and other stigmatizing labels and accusations that demonize the Houthis.

    Moreover, the report highlighted the language of hatred directed against southerners, where activists and media personalities engage in incitement campaigns against the south, contributing to deepening divisions and rooting hatred among citizens of the two regions.

    Regarding the external role, the Sam organization stated that since its involvement in the Arab coalition in March 2015, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has sought to deepen the geographical division in Yemen to serve its own interests in the country. This has been achieved through funding media and promotional campaigns across various media outlets to create and deepen hatred among Yemenis, particularly by emphasizing geographical differences between the north and south and advocating for the division of Yemen and the right of the south to form its own separate state. The UAE has exploited the special and difficult circumstances facing the Yemeni state and government in order to impose a divisive reality based on geographical factors.

    In addition, Saudi Arabia has been deepening the discourse of hatred between Sunnis and Shias through various media outlets. This is done through meetings and religious seminars organized by prominent religious figures who adopt the government's hostile discourse towards Shias. The intensity of these speeches has increased after Saudi Arabia's involvement in the ongoing conflict in Yemen in 2015. Since then, the Kingdom, through religious figures and government officials, has launched attacks against the Houthis, labeling them as "Rafidites," a derogatory term for Shias.

    SAM organization concluded in its report that one of the main reasons for the escalation of hate speech in Yemen during the war is the Houthi group's coup against the legitimate Yemeni state institutions and their adoption of an inflammatory and exclusionary discourse that incites violence and the killing of opponents.

    It concluded that the hate speech advocated, and still advocated, by various political and religious parties has contributed to the escalation of violence, extrajudicial killings, and violations against Yemeni civilians.

    One of the findings of the report is that the weakness of the Yemeni government and its control over the media has facilitated Yemeni organizations to use these platforms to disseminate their ideologies and ideas that incite hatred, racism, reject the other party, and encourage its persecution and killing.

    The report also mentioned that the intervention of some Arab countries has contributed to widening the gap between Yemeni factions, especially since each Arab country has its own objectives in intervening in the Yemeni conflict. Specifically, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whose interventions have had the greatest impact on deepening the divisions among Yemenis, as each country supports one party at the expense of the other.

    In addition, the report highlighted the absence of an effective international role by international organizations, particularly the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly, in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. Despite the warring parties committing massacres and violations that blatantly violate international law, no substantial and serious stance has been taken by these organizations to help stop the ongoing violations in Yemen and contribute to resolving the current crisis in the country.


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