Bahrain Forum for Human Rights: French President's Statements Regarding Offensive Cartoons against the Prophet (PBUP) Encourage Hate Speech against Muslims
The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR) reported that French President Emmanuel Macron's statements regarding offensive cartoons against the Prophet (PBUP) encourage hate speech against Muslims. It stressed that “negative stereotyping” of Muslims by exploiting individual incidents reinforces religious hatred, cruelly undermines freedom of religion and belief, and endangers religious peace.
The BFHR stressed that the Rabat Plan of Action talks about the distinction between freedom of expression and incitement to hatred, noting that the “offensive cartoons” and official French statements violate article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights according to the six-part threshold test of forms of expression penalized within the framework of the Rabat Plan of Action. The BFHR stressed that France should adopt legislation against religious hatred towards Muslims including preventive measures and sanctions to combat incitement to hatred against Muslims.
The BFHR further said that the right balance between freedom of expression and the equally important need to protect individuals and societies from discrimination and violence requires an effective treatment of the issue of incitement to hatred, noting that in recent years, events involving hate speech and negative stereotyping in the media and even public officials and political parties calling for religious or national hatred have resulted in killings of innocent people, attacks on places of worship, and calls for revenge.
The BFHR recalled the decision of the European Court of Human Rights of October 25, 2018 and the statement published by the Court on its website stating that “the criminal conviction of an Austrian woman who made insulting statements against the Prophet (PBUP) and fining her 480 euros, is not a violation of her right to freedom of expression.”
The BFHR discussed the application of a balanced equation between freedom of speech, opinion and expression and protection against incitement to hatred, considering that the Rabat Plan of Action concerning the prohibition of the call to national, racial or religious hatred which constitutes an incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence has established the founding principles for dealing with the problem of hate speech.
"On May 8, 2020, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, called for effective global action to eradicate the 'tsunami' of hate speech that has grown alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, as he also called for the condemnation of hate speech against Muslims,” the BFHR said. “Guterres criticized as well in 2017 official opinions which increased hate speech, by saying: "Many populist political leaders distort Islam for malicious reasons and spread hatred against Muslims and serve terrorists groups and extremists,” the BFHR added.
Bahrain Forum for Human Rights
October 28, 2020