A seminar on hate speech was held at the permanent campus of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) in the capital on Monday.
The seminar titled 'Prevalence of Hate Speech in Bangladesh' was jointly organized by FACT WATCH, a centre to promote media information literacy at the Department of Media Studies and Journalism (MSJ), and WeR1, a group of ULAB students who are promoting peace and tolerance to fight online and offline hate speech in the country. WeR1 are participants of the 'Peer to Peer: Facebook Global Digital Challenge' competition.
Wafi Aziz Sattar, Lecturer at MSJ opened the program by explaining why the WeR1 initiative is important and what roles the youth of our nation has to play in countering hate speech. WeR1 team members Sidratul Muntaha Arony and Noshin Saiyara Sarker presented how they create contents to counter online hate speech through their Facebook page - WeR1.
International Republican Institute Country Director for Bangladesh Dr Geoffrey Macdonald delivered a lecture titled 'False Flag Blasphemy as a Type of Hate Speech in Bangladesh' at the event. In his speech, Dr Macdonald, discussed notions, types, prevalence and approaches to countering hate speech. At the end of Dr Macdonald's speech, there was an interactive question and answer session with the hundred students in attendance.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Jude William Genilo, Head of Department of MSJ said, "to counter the prevalence of hates speech ULAB's MSJ department has undertaken two outreach programs. The first is FACT WATCH and the second is the student campaign WeR1, in both these programs, students are heavily involved in addressing the pressing issues of tackling hate speech, misinformation, disinformation and malinformation. These programs are crucial in developing a future generation who are digitally literate, tolerant of any differences and are critical thinkers."
FACT WATCH Coordinator and MSJ Department Adjunct Faculty Aminul Islam said hate speech is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Despite its high prevalence in Bangladesh, it gets little space in academic discussions and debates. ULAB's FACT WATCH initiated this discussion session.
Faculty members of the department attended the event.