In order to “fit in” more easily in society, at school, at training, or in general among peers, young people often resort to different forms of behavior. Hate speech certainly belongs to one of them, given that, under the pretext of expressing their position on a certain topic, they often verbalize their thoughts and attitudes in an inadequate way, according to the Handbook “Our imperative – No Hate, No Violence.”
Social media has been identified as the most fertile ground for hate speech, where we witness calls for lynching, violence, and protest against individuals or groups almost on a daily basis. One of the authors of the report, Azra Hodzic, says that this happens because most of the most popular networks “offer” almost complete anonymity to their users, which further leads to an almost unstoppable wave of published content with different connotations, where hate speech dominates.
The editor of the Handbook, Lejla Hasandedic-Djapo, says that in most cases, hate speech leads to violence against groups or individuals against whom this hate speech is directed.
”In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), unfortunately, we see such examples every day where inciting rhetoric and hate speech against migrants, the LGBTQ+ population, Romani people and the like leads to violence against these groups, but also negatively affects individuals, who then, due to impaired mental health, unfortunately, see a way out only in suicide,” Hasandedic-Djapo stated.
Taking as example countries like BiH, where hate speech is present almost every day, violent extremism represents a great danger and is more likely to occur than in other societies in the region or the rest of Europe, the Handbook states. BiH went through war and suffering, which, among other causes, was caused by hate speech, war rhetoric, and calls for violence among the constituent nations of BiH.
”Unfortunately, this country experienced violent extremism, which left an indelible mark on the pores of its society, and the consequences are still being dealt with today, almost 30 years after the war. In this regard, young people are in great danger because they represent the target group for violent extremists groups and radical formations,” it is stated in the Handbook and it is added that in addition to the endangered identities of young people, we should also bear in mind the fact that this is a society in which there is an extremely high rate of unemployment and poverty.
The task of every society that is democratic or tends towards democratization is to deal with the issue of hate speech, with a special emphasis on young people. Hasandedic-Djapo says that educational institutions, the media, non-governmental organizations, religious associations, government representatives, but also mental health professionals have an important role in this, who can help individuals who are victims, but also those who spread hate speech.
”The project called “Our imperative: No Hate, No Violence” aims to contribute to the reduction of hate speech, which is often a prelude to hate crimes and violence. Also, to strengthen regional cooperation in order to help young people see each other through the prism of understanding and empathy, instead of through the prism of hatred and hostility,” Hasandedic-Djapo concluded, Detektor writes.