MDI Tackles Hate Speech in Serbia

Dates: 26 – 28 July 2017

Country: Serbia, Belgrade

Belgrade_Stop_the_Hate_workshop_1A recent claim by the Serbian Ministry for Youth and Sport that many young people in Serbia would not take part in youth mobility programmes with participants from other countries in the region suggests – if it is to believe the minister – that young people in Serbia live with prejudices, not only about their neighbours, but also about minority groups in their own society.

One of the aims of the workshop Stop the Hate organised by the Media Diversity Institute Western Balkans (MDI) and the National Youth Council of Serbia in Belgrade on 26 – 28 July was to deconstruct stereotypes held by the youth, but also to highlight importance of tackling hate speech and discriminatory language.

A group of young activists from different parts of Serbia were trained to become peer educators in tackling hate speech. The three-day training organised with the support of European Youth Foundation (EYF) is part of the Serbian national No Hate Speech campaign and aims to increase the awareness of young people about hate speech and its consequences. Stop the Hate project wants to increase the capacities of young people in Serbia to recognise, understand and combat hate speech online and offline.

Belgrade_Stop_the_Hate_workshop_2Participants have discussed human rights and the responsibility to respect them, particularly freedom of expression and its limits. Topics also included the responsible use of internet, hate speech and tools to counter it. Participants were introduced to Tips to Counter Hate Speech produced by MDI with the support of Twitter.

Coordinator of the No Hate Speech campaign of the Council of Europe (CoE) Menno Ettema discussed with trainees ideas and values behind the campaign, as well as tools that CoE uses to counter hate speech.

One of the liveliest discussions during the workshop was between the participants and representatives of the Ministry for Youth and Sport and the Ministry for Education.  They talked about peer violence, the role of schools and educators in combating violence, and also about existing tools that different stakeholders can use to protect themselves or combat peer violence and online abuse.

Serbian No Hate activists have presented their work and activities within the campaign in order to give trainees an idea of what kind of actions they can take in order to combat hate in their local communities.

After the workshop in Belgrade, every participant will organise at least one follow-up activity such as organising a workshop in the local school, a street action, or writing a blog reflecting some of the topics discussed during the training, etc.