Hate Speech and Xenophobia in Kyrgyz Media

Published: 6 May 2015

Country: Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan_Media_Report_2015Celebrating World Press Freedom Day 2015, School of Peacemaking and Media Technology published a report addressing hate speech in local media, digital security challenges and cyber threats, as well as political pressure.

After analysing the last four months of Kyrgyz media content, School of Peacemaking and Media technology concluded that the majority of articles and posts were using hate speech.

The leading topics covered in the media and on the internet were the Chinese expansion and Kumtor, an open-pit gold mining site in Kyrgyzstan close to the border with China. The School reports that “the hostile rhetoric remained unchanged and was detected almost in all specified topics. Ethnic backgrounds of people were still the lens through which media reaction to political, economic and social issues could be seen”.

Experts have recorded the increasing number of ethnic groups facing hostile attacks. If earlier anti-Uzbek rhetoric has been recorded, now other ethnic groups have been added as targets of hate. More inhumane attacks and dehumanizing metaphors have been qualified against the Chinese, Russians, Koreans, Uigurs.

Anti-American and anti-Russian moods of journalists and politicians concerning the developments in Ukraine, future accession of Kyrgyzstan to EurAsEC can be clearly discerned, anti-Chinese moods intensify due to the increased migration flow from China to Kyrgyzstan.

The School’s report states that the monitoring showed the unexpected increase of fears of religious animosity. One third of respondents have read or heard from the media some information that, in their opinion, may cause animosity to other religious groups. Some fears are associated with the negative image of Muslims in the media due to the increasing radicalism in the region and the war in Syria.

The examined viewers and readers referred to the impact of “the Charlie Hebdo effect”, which shaped their animosity towards the Christians. Such feelings appeared in the audience after the terror attack at the offices a French satirical magazine that has published controversial Muhammad cartoons. This topic widely discussed in foreign and local media has shocked many people. At the same time, readers pay attention to the existing satire and anecdotes in the Kyrgyz press that often contain xenophobic clichés and hostile lexemes, which can also cause animosity in various communities, says the School.

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