Research paper: Religious Actors and Countering Hate Speech in Europe
Hate speech is a serious and growing problem that threatens social cohesion in many European societies. Several countries have witnessed rising levels of polarisation, with xenophobia, racism and anti-religious hatred proliferating, particularly in online fora. Policymakers and legislators in Europe have so far been slow to accept that online and offline spaces are closely linked and that hate speech, if left unabated, will inevitably have serious consequences. There is huge potential for religious actors to become more active – and more visible – in the fight against hate speech. Religion is a major target of hate speech in Europe. This research paper highlights some of the challenges and best practices of religious actors in the field of countering hate speech. The research paper makes the case that to tackle a multifaceted and complex problem such as hate speech, no one solution will be sufficient. Rather, it requires multilevel approaches, collaboration across all sectors of society and strategies for both the short and long term.