The recent times potential threat on national unity,peace and security posed by hate speeches emanating from various, individuals, groups and parts of the country has created anxiety and doubts on whether or not Nigeria will still remain a sovereign entity. these threats posed real and potential danger, fear especially when viewed against the backdrop that Social media and all that it stands for have helped in creating more problems than solutions which can lead to acts of violence and conflict on wider scale by use of incitement.
Speaking, in a town hall group discussion with critical stakeholders to promote peace and unity in Kaduna, the Founder and chief executive officer of Hope Builders Foundation, (HBF), Rev. Dr. Mathias Yashin, described, hate speech as one of the major threat to national Unity, peace, security and development of a country,more than just harsh words, which can be any form of expression intended to vilify, humiliate and incite hatred against group, class of people both offline and online.
According to him, any of form of Communication in speech writing, behaviour that attacks a person or group of people on the basis of their religious beliefs, ethnicity or political ideologies. noted that such statements has helped to promote malicious stereotypes which intended incite hatred against individuals, community and the nation at large.
” Hate speech on social media content has promoted violence against individuals or groups attribute which includes race, ethnic origin, religion, gender, age and political parties incited to cause conflicts and gave birth to crisis “
” All over the world today, hate speech is on the rise and the language of exclusion, marginalization has crept into media coverage,online platforms, national policies and communities are facing problematic level of intolerance in our society is visible in religious line. That bring so much hatred among different religious groups, denomination within a given religion and in the society there is so much hatred and persecution of certain religion by other religious groups “
The cleric further explained that, the effect of hate speech often times has resulted into violence, conflicts and crisis as long as the right element are not put in place such as context conducive to violence”
” Hate speech is harmful with experience emotional, mental and psychological consequences which causes low self-esteem, it brings self worth anxiety, self harm and even suicide ” He said.
Yashim stated that, is a weapon used for political gain with hostile rhetoric directed at minorities, women and youths which weaken and destroyed communities with the aims of sowing seeds of fear, depression, hatred and distrust, when left unchecked can lead to violence in communities and help to set condition for genocide.
Rev Yashim suggested that responses to hate speech required a well coordinated response from guidance counselor, religious leaders, policymakers, Journalist and general public to address the major driver of hate speech by upholding the fundamental right inclusion of all the communities and individuals.
He added that raising awareness through community held trainings, educating friends, family and members of the community on the dangers of discrimination and intolerance in communities.
He urged government who have primary responsibility to be prevents incitement and protect people from hate speech and it intended consequences for the peace building, security and national growth of the country which is the key to peacefully coexistence of the nation.
While he called, on parents, counselor, teacher and religious leaders to sit up to help and prevent children, youth, and young adults from experiencing and engaging in hate speech rather to embrace healthy ways of communication that will build the society and the nation to bring lasting solution to peace and unity irrespective of one ethnic background, religious among others.
” Hate speech is evil, harmful if contemplating it as a political weapon, drop it. There are better ways to get to the top of leadership, political career without insulting, discriminating, dehumanization,violence and inciting hatred in people against themselves “He concluded.