Words matter - Combating hate crime in Europe

Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende said “The rule of law and strong democratic institutions are keys to foster societies to challenge hate speech and hate crime. If victims of hate crime suffer from lack of response from authorities and offenders are not prosecuted the whole society suffers and ultimately democracy fails.”

No Hate Speech movement

The Council of Europe has launched a movement with the goal to raise awareness and to fight racism and hate speech online. The project is organized by the youth sector of the Council.

Hate speech is used online in many different forums. Many young people expresses that they use insulting words only as a joke, but the message can still carry negative prejudices. When you are on the internet it is very easy to hide behind a screen and not see the consequences of your comments. Hate speech can also be a mobilizing factor for violence and radicalization.

Learning critical thinking

It is crucial for youth to learn critical thinking and to develop a good competence concerning media and information, to learn what can and what cannot be said online. It is important not to fall into the trap where you put people in categories and don’t respect each human being. There are rules on how to treat other people, whether you talk directly to them or not.

Campaign launched in Norway

The No Hate Speech movement is going on in many European countries, and the Norwegian edition was launched on February 11. It is important to raise awareness about the problem of hateful comments online, for instance on online newspaper websites. This is a problem also in Norway and the campaign helps people see that.

Link to the Norwegian campaign’s website (in Norwegian):

Contributions through the EEA-grants

Through the EEA-grants, Norway has arranged or supported a number of conferences the last year on the topic of hate crime: Tackling Hate Speech: Living Together Online (Budapest), Right-Wing Extremism and Hate Crime (Oslo) and Hate Factor in Political Speech (Warszawa).

It is a big challenge in most countries that victims of hate crime are unwilling to tell about what they have been victims of. Many crimes are for this reason never reported and therefor never investigated.

The EEA-grants is an important tool for Norway to raise awareness in Europe on how hate speech and hate crime contributes to undermine democratic values and how the focus should be rather on fronting tolerance and multicultural understanding. The EEA-grants supports a series of measures to fight hate speech mainly through programs with civil society and NGOs. Through the EEA-grants Norway’s is also a strategic partner for the Council of Europe’s No Hate Speech Movement.

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