We cannot escape the frightening reality that hate is on the rise: Hate crime is up by 29% on last year; far right political parties have gained a terrifying level of support across Europe and the crisis in the Labour party surrounding anti-Semitism has uncovered a dangerous level of mainstreamed, poorly challenged anti-Semitic thinking. In tandem with the rise in physical and political manifestations of hate we have also seen the online space being increasingly used to share dangerous hateful views.
The parliamentary inquiry into the role of social media companies in addressing hate crime and illegal content online found that extremism is growing online in parallel with the growth of social media. Last April, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the National Police Chief Council’s hate crime lead, said that there had been a significant increase in online hate crime over the last 24 to 36 months.
YouTube was found to be awash with videos that promoted far-right racist tropes, for example titles that included: “White Genocide Europe—Britain is waking up”, “Diversity is a code word for white genocide” and “Jews admit organizing White Genocide” as well as holocaust denial videos including “The Greatest Lie Ever Told”, “The Great Jewish Lie” and “The Sick Lies of a Holocaust ‘Survivor’”.
How do we stand a chance against such bleak numbers and statistics? What can we as a community on and offline set against such hate?
The middle ground that opposes far right extremism, Islamist extremism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, gender inequality is woefully silent. This puts us in great danger of our human rights based values becoming second place to hate and intolerance. Evidenced most recently in the UK’s refusal to give Asia Bibi, accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, asylum allegedly owing to fears of unrest here in the UK.
With the rise of digital and social media we have the same opportunities to speak up as radical groups do. We too, can fill the void. We can step into the public space and counter negativity and disregard for human life with positive messages and counter-narratives.
There have been great examples of communities making a stand #MeToo being one of the most prevalent movements. #MeToo reached millions of people around the world and gave those who had previously silently suffered a voice.
Recently in response to a sickening letter calling for a ‘punish a Muslim day’ in April 2018, communities across the UK stood up and spoke out against such bigotry and hate. #LoveAMuslimDay encouraged individuals and communities alike to show unity and solidarity.
John Stuart Mill said ‘Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than
that good men should look on and do nothing. With an unacceptable rise in intolerance in our society it is time we took to the platforms that hateful extremists are using already to spread their islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and misogyny and make a stand for the shared values that unite our diverse nation.
Muslims Against Anti-Semitism will be working with communities to build a grass-roots movement that tackles the particular challenge of the rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. We want to be a part of turning the tide on hate by challenging bias and will be using the online space to platform positive voices who share our values of tolerance, equality and individual liberty in order to do that. Watch our twitter @MAAS_UK and don’t be afraid to get in touch, join the community and get involved. Watch out for events and campaigns to come to and get involved in!
Charlotte Littelwood is the Programme Manager for Muslims Against Antisemitism