YMCA marked “Turn on Knowledge! Turn Off Hate!” campaign by bringing awareness through discussion in a digital platform with activists as Blert Morina, Adelina Tërshani, Dardan Hoti, and Dorina Gllogjani.
The main topic was hate speech and its impact. Through this regional campaign YMI aims to promote differences because all people are different, it is very important to learn how to understand, respect, and accept others.
Hate speech covers many forms of expressions which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against a person or group of persons for a variety of reasons.
Often, hate speech often can be transformed into violent extremism. When does this happen?
Extremism is based on making a clear border between “us” i.e. those who share the same views, and “them” i.e. all those who are different in beliefs, attitudes, origin, skin color, sexual orientation, sex/gender or ethnic background. Hating somebody in combination with other societal, personal, cultural and political factors can create a solid foundation for transition from words to deeds. Main characteristics of extremist beliefs is that world and society will collapse, that we are living on the edge where only radical solutions will restore the balance. Such beliefs in combination with group psychology and political aim – lead to the terrorism followed by fear and violence.
In societies where relations are fragile, institutions weak and citizens feel left to themselves – violence can be seen as a logical solution. Hate speech promotes violence and incites hatred towards individuals or groups based on certain attributes such as race, gender, religion, age, statute, sexual orientation, and others.
Given that, the focus of this conversation was marginalized groups.
Therefore, our partners in Kosovo, have thought the best way to spread positive and peaceful messages to their followers. Up to 500 people have participated in this discussion through social media, Facebook.
Panelists of this discussion have given diverse perspectives, starting from Blert Morina, who for the moment holds the position as Executive Director at the Center for Equality and Freedom Kosovo. Yet, his activism with LGBTQI+ rights goes beyond his professional life – considering that he is the first transgender person in Kosovo that has gone public in media about the case of changing the name and gender marker, pushing this issue to a whole new level in terms of challenging the contradictions in legal framework.
The second panelist has been Adelina Tërshani, who gave her contribution to the conversation mainly in the gender area as an activist of human rights. Currently, she works for Women’s Network Kosovo, in the field of gender discrimination in the labor market. Adelina is co-author of two reports on gender-based discrimination in Kosovo and the Western Balkans.
The third panelist from the media sector, Dardan Hoti, with 8 years of experience in journalism. Topics he mostly covered have been in the protection of human rights with a focus on the rights of marginalized groups. It is worth mentioning that in 2013, he won the first prize for Poverty Reporting, from the United Nations Agencies.
And the last panelist, as YMCA representative, to give experiences and accomplishments of Young Man Initiative project, Dorina Gllogjani. She has been part of the civil society for 7 years, working directly with young people. Lastly, she leads projects with a focus on mental health and gender equality.
This discussion made it clear by bringing reason to why hate speech should never be an option. “If you post discriminatory messages on social media, or call for murder against marginalized groups, even as a joke, this is not fine and this is called hate speech, but don’t lie to yourself by saying that this is freedom of expression” noted Blert Morina during the meeting. While Adelina Tërshani, shared that she considers that direct work with young people is very important to open their minds about different lifestyles and acceptance of this fact. Dardan Hoti, gave his contribution in this discussion on how the media treats this issue. “A law banning insulting and hateful comments, ongoing training of journalists, would have been necessary to prevent the promotion of hate speech and the promotion of extremism by the media”, he said. “Throughout the YMI project, we work intensively to eliminate such behaviors. We have seen that if young people have the right space to develop and receive information of these topics, they become advocates themselves of peace and their rights”, said Dorina Gllogjani in this discussion.
Diversity is what makes our life more beautiful, interesting, and educational. We are all equal, and communication can fix any problem. Before turning to someone negatively, reflect on yourself. And remember, helping others also means helping yourself!
This discussion was part of the project “Men and Boys as Partners in Promoting Gender Equality and Preventing Violence and Extremism among Youth in the Balkans” implemented by CARE International Balkans in partnership with the YMCA in Kosovo and SIT supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and Oak Foundation.