Unity in diversity: ‘Majoritarian ideas hinder national integration’

Government urged to introduce minority-friendly legislation.

Ali Usman September 10, 2014


South Asia Partnership-Pakistan (SAP-P) Deputy Director Irfan Mufti said on Tuesday that there was a need to recognise separation of public and private spheres of life.

He was speaking at an event organised by the SAP-P and the REAT Network regarding hate speech. The consultation was convened to exchange ideas regarding the establishment of durable peace in society.  Mufti said it was imperative to proscribe speeches that demonised members of other communities.

He said other religions should be respected and majoritarian ideologies should be circumscribed as they hinder national integration by alienating minorities.

SAP-P National Programme Coordinator Hameed Gondal said social chaos should be prevented to establish durable societal peace. He said this was necessary to protect the life and dignity of every citizen.

Several representatives of non-governmental organisations and lawyers participated in the consultation. They said the dissemination of hate speech by loudspeakers, the education curriculum and social media jeopardised minorities’ rights. They said it endangered societal peace and fuelled hatred. The speakers emphasised the need to revise the educational curriculum as it demonised minorities, promoted hatred and compromised their fundamental rights.

They said it had played a crucial role in depriving minorities of their constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech, thought, assembly, association and confession. The speakers expressed concern over the unregulated proliferation of hate speech by loudspeakers, social media, graffiti, syllabi, pamphlets, posters, hoardings and banners. They urged the government to restrict the phenomenon by framing new laws and ensuring that older legislation was implemented effectively.

The speakers said the government needs to introduce minority-friendly polices to safeguard and promote their rights. They said inter-faith dialogues, teacher training, curriculum revision, behaviour correction, introduction of minority-friendly laws in accordance with the Constitution and international conventions needed to be facilitated to curb hate speech.

The speakers said amending discriminatory laws, improving service delivery, non-governmental networking, advocacy and lobbying was mandatory to restrict hate speech and promote minorities’ rights. They urged political parties to take an active interest in addressing the challenges confronting the minorities. The speakers said enlightened discourses should be promoted to spread tolerance.

They said mechanisms regulating the proliferation of hate speech should be introduced. The speakers said core ethics should be defined and a uniform curriculum should be introduced. They said seminars promoting inter-faith harmony and tolerance should be held in educational institutions to promote societal peace.

The speakers said the recent Supreme Court decision regarding minorities’ rights should be implemented. They said the code of conduct authored by religious scholars regarding the circumscription of hate speech should be implemented.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2014.


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