Trigger warning: this article and the associated campaign may contain phrases or words that may be categorized as disturbing, hurtful, and humiliating. 

‘Divide and conquer’, a strategy that the English colonizer used to ensure the maximum utilization of resources in the colonized country; is a strategy that directly depends on racism. In Sudan, it was executed by sowing discord among the Sudanese, and from there, racism began its journey among tribes and between different ethnicities. It also created discrimination, as light-skinned Sudanese had access to more privilege than dark-skinned ones. From there on, the plague of hatred and racism began to spread to this day. Unfortunately, discrimination is practiced by most Sudanese within political campaigns, work, and households.

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Source: Dreamtimes

Hate speech is a loose human rights term that describes speech that encourages incitement to harm, and this speech falls under constricting freedom of expression. The term ‘hate’ has various types, including social, racial, national, religious, and other hateful vocabularies. It has another definition, as “biased speech that insults human dignity, obscures bad faith because of distress, and is insulting”.  Given the state of Sudan with its different ethnicities and tribes, we find this great diversity followed by the shadow of hate speech.

This is not an isolated phenomenon or the loud voices of a few people on the fringe of society. Hate is moving into the mainstream – in liberal democracies and authoritarian systems alike. And with each broken norm, the pillars of our common humanity are weakened. - UN strategy plan of action on hate speech

The principles of freedom of expression on the internet tolerate hate speech and have not developed a policy to fight it. This has made it very easy to use hate speech to serve political purposes and infringe on the rights of individuals. Social networking sites are characterized by their rapid and widespread of news, especially in Sudan, as a lot of false news is spread within a matter of seconds. These sites contain a lot of hate speech and also rumors and abuse such as sexual abuse and slander of individuals. A significant portion of the terms identified by a study conducted by PeaceTech Lab in collaboration with Andariya and SUDIA were homosexual slurs. Another significant finding that the study identified was the racially charged terms, as racism is still present and abundantly used in everyday life and on the Internet. Many of us know that when one was a child, their families would prevent him/her from playing with a friend of Arab, western, or southern origin. Alas, here begins the discrimination, racism, and inferiority. Indeed from here on, one begins to share their perspective that it is better to be a "son of Arabs" or "Southerner" and begins to avoid dealing with the other.

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Source: rightsafrica.com

In the field of arts, we see and hear racist jokes, such as the“Jaali” and “Shawayga” tribesmen jokes, that link tribalism to intelligence, stupidity, and, stinginess. They are all hateful idioms planted in our minds since we were children and we were raised with them. The term "Slave/Nigger" is one of the terms that had the highest frequency among study participants, and the term "Maid" also shared a high number of repetitions. In general, terms related to racism were common among the participants, and that is indicative of the prevalence of racist terminology – making it a daily occurrence that many are desensitized to. Among the terms that showed high frequency in this present society according to the study are "Chick, Infidel, Communist, Koz, Ethiopian, Mongolian, Has a race." These and other abusive labels are used on a daily basis in real life and on social media. I have had debates with some young people from the area of Omdurman, Ab Roof about hate speech, which left no room for doubt that hate speech is widely used among young people, especially on social media, and specifically on Twitter.

To reduce hate speech, we have to raise awareness in Sudan and accept our differences in color, language, and appearance. I would suggest children’s upbringing as the first place to start as it is a double-edged sword that can help spread hate speech and can also reduce it by changing the principles of upbringing which are based on racism and hate. Therefore, upbringing should be based on the child's knowledge of his/her rights and duties, and how to accept varying opinions and differences from many perspectives. They must also be educated on freedom – that everyone has their freedom as long as it does not infringe on the freedom of other.

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Source: humanuim.com

Moreover, a deterrent law should be established for everyone who uses hate speech to guarantee the rights of people harmed by it. It is also important in this age to define strict policies on the Internet that help eradicate hate speech to ensure freedom of opinion and expression, and discourage Internet users from using such language.

Using hate speech does not give you the delusional advantage of living the moment of superiority, but rather indicates the extent of your ignorance and inability to act rationally. No human being likes to be taunted or belittled, but unfortunately, the way of upbringing in Sudan supports hateful speech, especially racist vocabulary. That is why we see dark-skinned Sudanese described as ‘Slave/Nigger’, ‘Maid’, and ‘Southerner’. These individuals might lose their humanity and self-esteem as they’ll live their entire lives entrapped by these terms. Racism always comes from differences, and currently, we are in a new period called “Freedom, Peace, and Justice”. If we are still engaging in racist and hateful speech, where is the freedom?

The Lexicon of Hate Terms in Sudan

Hate speech is practiced widely on social media as well as in person, which is why PeaceTech Lab with SUDIA and Andariya began a lexicon project to investigate hate speech terms. It was necessary to conduct workshops in some cities and surveys on the Internet to primarily identify these terms. The cities included in the survey were Khartoum, South Kordofan, and North Darfur. This study also targeted online users and gathered 215 respondents. It found 167 unique hate speech terms, and they ranged from racist slurs to sexual terms.

Join the movement ما_تناديني# on social media. Express the type of hate speech you received throughout your life.

 

 

This post is also available in: Arabic


Ahmed Elkamil

Ahmed Ellkamil is a content creator and essayist. He is the founder of the Literary Writing Club at the Faculty of Science at the University of Khartoum. Ahmed produces and presents a radio show called "Talas Fun" on SoundCloud.