A group of NGOs and citizens marched from Valletta to Msida today, taking a stand against hate speech.

Agenzija Zgħazagħ, SOS Malta, Integra Foundation, Kopin, African Media Association Malta, Migrant Women Association Malta and Spark 15 joined forces, carrying balloons which read "no hate", and placards which read “there is room for refugees but no room for hate”.

The march forms part of a broader online campaign initiated by the Council of Europe's No Hate Movement. 

Ahead of the march, the collective said that the initiative, which followed World Refugee Day last month, was aimed at raising awareness about online hate speech, in particular hate speech targeting refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented situation, where the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ continues to provoke heated debates on the impact it has on the European communities. Under the guise of freedom of expression, the crisis has given rise to a furore of racist, xenophobic and aggressive nationalist statements that echo the darkest times of European history,” the collective of NGOs said.

Rather being used as a tool to express hatred, social media should be used to fight hate speech, they said.

European concerns about rising migration influxes have brought with them a rising tide of xenophobia and racism, with social media having made it easier than ever for aggressive hate speech to spread. Authorities in both the UK and France have warned about rising hate speech in recent months.

To find out more contact SOS Malta on info@sosmalta.com or 21335097.

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