CIVIL: Impunity for hate speech has to stop!

CIVIL – Center for Freedom most strongly condemns the hate speech that is intensely present in part of the election campaigning and in the public communication in the electoral context. Once more, CIVIL calls on the institutions, primarily, the State Election Commission and the Prosecutor’s Office, as well as the media and the entire Macedonian public to strongly condemn and reject all forms and expressions of hate speech in the public appearances of individuals and groups in the country. The organization reminds that the road from hate speech to hate crimes is short and that the consequences are unimaginable.

CIVIL’s monitoring has determined that explicit hate speech is being used on the social networks, some of the internet portals, as well as during public events organized by political structures supporting and promoting the presidential candidates. Some of the presidential candidates use hidden, but often also open hate speech. This is usually noticed in the public appearances of candidate Gordana Siljanovska Davkova and senior representatives of the party supporting her, VMRO-DPMNE.

One of the fan groups is also directly involved in the campaign with explicit and extreme hate speech. It concerns the “Komiti” fan group, which on the day of the central promotional event of candidate Stevo Pendarovski called for a protest against the name change. The same group used their presence at the “Boris Trajkovski” football field in Skopje for uncontrolled rampage at the stands, with explicit hate speech and calls for ethnic cleansing of a whole ethnic community. They spiced up the sporting event also with a physical attack on one of the players of the rival football team. The only punishment for this disgraceful act, as announced, will be a fine for FK Vardar, whose fans are the Komiti.

At the rally of candidate Stevo Pendarovski, supported by more than thirty political parties led by the ruling SDSM, one of those who were present at the rally, who was given a microphone by the organizers, threatened the State Election commission with a gun.

Although marginal, the groups presenting themselves under the titles “I Boycott” and “Christian Brotherhood”, use fierce hate speech and in two cases, noted by CIVIL’s monitoring, with open threats for the liquidation of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

At the public event of the Democratic Union for Integration, CIVIL’s monitoring notes an extremely rude appearance with hate speech by the senior official of this party and MP in Parliament. At the end of his speech, Grubi used the name and last name of Blerim Reka, putting it in context of a part of a funeral ritual, as a last address to the deceased, and who changed it for his goals into: “Blerim, son of Hamza, not of Kastriot, but of Reka”. Grubi’s appearance was met with laughter and obvious support from party leader Ali Ahmeti and some of the other senior party officials and participants at the event.

There are numberless messages and comments on the social networks that contain vulgar, rude and radical expressions that represent explicit hate speech that is forbidden by law.

Hate speech is not freedom of expression, rather the opposite. The campaigns are paid from the state budget. It is public money that belongs to all the citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia. Political and other entities involved in public communication do not have the right to abuse the social networks, the media and the public space for spreading hatred and bringing in fear and insecurity among the citizens.

Hate speech has to stop! Every individual and formal and informal political or citizen group spreading hatred and calling for violence has to be held accountable. The impunity for hate speech has to stop!

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