The media’s identity in the presence of hate speech

مُتاح أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)

Journalistic analysis:
Ghuda Kafala

After the wave of Arab Spring revolutions at the beginning of 2011 which requested in its first demands and cried out for the right of expression for citizens in their affairs and the countries’ affairs without a deterrent authority or a major force that restricts their freedom, and the concept of hate speech or discourse emerged in the MENA region and it included changes in many used inciting concepts either on the ground or on the traditional media and networking sites of a social. 

Hate speech to this day does not have a specific and material definition that is agreed upon by all countries of the world, as some of the definitions contribute to blocking knowledge and arousing vagueness around the term, and according the Cambridge Lexicon defines hate speech as a public discourse that directs expressions of hate or incitement to violence towards a person or group based on race, color, religion , sexual identity, etc. Weinstein Urban Dictionary goes on to describe hate speech as “demonic” and at the same time he describes that the passage of special laws to prevent hate speech prevents people from expressing their opinions towards a particular person or event.

In this sense and to this day the term of hate speech a debatable one the world and in the United States America, specifically the First Constitutional Amendment, which prohibits passing laws that restrict freedom of expression or hinder the freedom of the press , and thus it made hate speech possible as part of Freedom of expression unless these expressions or terms lead to criminal acts or behaviors. In Libya and the countries of the region this is completely different from how it is in the first world countries and beyond the Mediterranean, where hate speech is the primary means used by many local and regional media outlets through public for promoting some civil groups or military categories who are trying to support political figures or specific community characters at the expense of other parties, as well as the use of offensive terms used by some individuals, groups and entities. There are many methods of hate speech and inciting language in the Libyan media, including:

   Speeches broadcasted through direct radio or audio means: a speech in which the correspondent at the particular radio channel practices an offensive speech on certain groups for national, ideological or regional reasons such as broadcaster of Libya Al-Hadath channel Zakaria Bouhali who threatened a caller on air telling him that he is targeted and would be executed once Marshal Khalifa Haftar forces enter Tripoli, and this is considered a huge media practice violation.

  Comprehensive radio or audio means speech: It is the speech in which the speaker directs generalizable words or phrases to specific peoples or entire countries, such as the media speech directed towards the State of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Turkey, Egypt and United States of America.

   Unilateral radio speech or audio: which is a speech directed against a particular character, whether political, religious, or public or sportive … etc. . Such as : the incitingspeech against the Mufti Sheikh Al-Sadiq al – Gharyani , the former National Congress Chairman Muhammad al- Maqrif, the current Prime Minister, al-Sarraj, and Marshal Khalifa Haftar … etc.

Media means in Libya are public platforms that provide content that is relatively inaccurate in many situations, as there are some means that depend in its sources on social media pages and accounts on networking sites which are not normally eligible for press services, also some Libyan television channels steal or plagiarize through displaying and broadcasting some articles and content prepared by other individuals or entities such as stealing some videos and using them within the material presented by the channel , and thus these radio platforms are unreliable sources and what they carry out is inconsistent with the accuracy and professionalism of free and fair media practices.

Between the various methods of inciting language used on traditional media and social media, there are various forms which contributed to enriching that content such as defamatory campaigns through publishing photos, videos or private recordings for example the incident of publishing the private photos of former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and defamation of the former head of General National Congress Nouri Abusahmain, this normally happens within a breach of the profession’s basics and press ethics.

There is also the organized electronic or media attack , such as direct coverage or stigma through the weekly program broadcast on Libya’s Al-Ahrar channel which hosts Mr. Noman Benotman, Head of the Quilliam International Foundation, which continues to be broadcasted almost throughout the weekly period for more than four hours on air , where guest uses expressions of insult, sarcasm and ridicule to attack many Libyan individuals and international personalities  which have played a big role in circulating hate speech through general threats or private threats . They also use bargaining or bartering in exchange for not publishing confidential or personal information related to an individual or a group or in another words “in exchange for not compromising”.

153 daily breaches of Libyan TV channels in 2017

(Professional fallacies in covering direct events, expressions of violence and direct incitement)

Professional breaches


Of the content provided

Professional breaches


Of the content provided

However, the Libyan media has many times became a partner in strategic inciting and worsening of the ongoing conflict today in Libya and also contributed to empowering and creating new conflicts through highlighting false news or events that never occurred or exaggerating in numbers of fallen victims during certain events or giving justifications for violence by showing the heroicness of certain parties and the demonization of others, and this is an direct contradiction to the basics of traditional or digital media.

On the other hand, many journalists believe that freedom of expression cannot be restricted to terms such as hate speech or the language of incitement and violence, as this hinders the expression of public and private opinion about specific issues or problems, and this is what many of them describe as objective criticism of many incidents and issues of public opinion, and thus they believe that freedom of expression contributed to dealing with these issues and revealing aspects of corruption in them.

Likewise, it is not possible to disregard the explicit attempts to issue threats, in which the program host direct statements that attack individuals and prevent them from expressing their opinion on air, whether by alleging that the lost connection to the call or through closing it intentionally, and this contradicts with the citizens’ right to express their views through visual and audio press and radio outlets and reflects the extent of the directed media’s dogmatism which is influenced by non-neutral entities or funds coming from beyond borders and seas. Indeed , according to the latest report for the year 2017 which was issued by the Libyan Center for Freedom of the press, there are approximately 153 violations committed daily on the television Libyan channels, which varies between professional fallacies in direct coverage of events , expressions of and direct incitement of violence, as Tanasuh Libyan TV was among the first channels to have the greatest deal of professional violations committed, as it  41% of its presented content is filed with stigmatization and stereotyping and posting pictures of the dead and their families, and this is a flagrant violation for the right persons to agree to publish photos or not , we should also note the negative role played by Mufti Al-Sadiq Al-Gharyani through his program which is broadcasted on Tansasuh TV channel had a great impact on fueling the crisis on the ground through religious arguments or fatwas that have contributed to the participation of waves of youth in armed groups and war arenas.

Al-Hadath TV channel was ranked second with 17% as they broadcasted the statements of some of the prisoners and fighters across its screen, as well as pictures of some of the dead and described them with the strongest terms such as humiliation, stigma and mockery, and in 3rd place came Libya News Channel as it launched a series of arbitrary detention and willful killings threats which is a criminal violation against humanity.

This report reveals to us the extent of the media’s intolerance in favor of its financiers and its adopted ideologies, as these channels are considered the main contributor to wars or conflicts on the ground which would not have occurred if they were absent.

All aforementioned cases contradict with freedom of expression formally and substantially, as this kind of language authorizes fighters on battling grounds to commit crimes, abuses and violations in the name of religion or for the sake of their tribe or party which they follow.

Here freedom of expression stands at crossroads where many people find it difficult to describe or interpret as what one person consider as freedom of expression other may consider it as a violation of it and vice versa.

As for another issue,  one of the broadcasters mentioned the names and titles of individuals he considers enemies of the General Command of the armed forces in the eastern region and incited to kill them on air and to target their families, children and the people who are loyal to them, this is considered to be a direct use of inciting  language and mobilizing people against them , as the descriptions were used to describe them were ones that stripped them of their humanity, such as words like slaves and mercenaries and also descriptions of animals like rats and mice … etc. .

The incompetent undermining handling of sensitive issues by Libyan media professionals such as mentioning certain names and tribes is a great threat to the social fabric of society which is decaying due to past and present media wars as many media professionals got involved in the midst of ideologization and politicization which certain parties and states pushed towards it and interfering directly in Libyan internal affairs.

Caricature depicts the ideological and political polarization that dominates Libyan media - Iwan Libya

As the excesses and violations committed by Libyans are a series of cultural accumulations resulting from fragile and non-subjective ideas, these fragile ideas have created a bundle of political, ideological or intellectual stereotypes regarding differences , so once we are certain that we can confront these differences through free media in this time, distant offensive tools gets used immediately, and this experimental accumulation has cognitive remnants that are the main reason for the negative handling of many geopolitical and social issues.

The negative experimental accumulation of a large group of contemporary Libyan media, loaded with informational and ethical disinformation, has a direct impact on the democratic transition, which is a key stage in the process of political reform within changing or transitional societies. These breaches are a series of obstacles that prevent the positive handling of Libya’s transition and thus stop completely advancement toward the passage to a free democratic transition.  One of the main functions that the media must have is to facilitate is decision-making, as the media is capable of having a real influence on political decision-making or imposing it or even preventing it from being followed by the following audience. This takes place either through positive decision-making that serves the society and the public, such as opening files of corruption and public opinion issues, which are useful and positive for the public, or which are negatively addressed by pushing parties away from other parties or hiding certain personalities. This, in turn, is contrary to the moral message that an honest media must ensure.

The range of experimental accumulations that it has entered and is still undergoing in the Libyan media is a natural product of the existing dogmatism, on which the mass media, in their general view, are called for democratic change. The changes on the ground and in parallel with the foreign policy – with the neighboring countries that are described as friends and allies of Libya – play an important role in turning the media discourse from a solid one to a soft one that matches the current circumstances. Also, the material submitted periodically is another variable data according to ideological changes and political priorities.

It is not hidden that ideological differences in Libyan media are an added media and public value if they are properly employed, but an opposite of the concept of proper media ideology has been employed, which has set these channels as platforms for slowing the transition toward political democracy and nation-building and running for presidential and parliamentary elections.  Media ideology has not only misled the amount of excessive support for its parties, and has turned a blind eye to its media or public accountability through its platforms and channels. On the contrary, it has contributed to concealing facts and files from the audience involved and violating every ethics of the press and media profession in pushing for public affairs reform and a democracy of opinion.  Hate speech driven by political, intellectual, or historical reasons also extended to alternative or digital media – through social media, many (digital toxins) were broadcast. Through pages of Libyan media, including photographs of torture of bodies and the use of terms that are evidence of actual violence, persecution and incitement against minorities and vulnerable groups.

The Libyan media and a post-revolutionary shifted from the cognitive inertia and the dictatorial political constraints of the Gaddafi era and the false government trumpets and voices to a period of laxity filled with hate messages, during which even defenders of freedom of expression pointed out that direct hate speech required private and rapid treatment Especially those that are not measured within the marketplace of ideas.

Anti-hate speech published by the Libyan Ministry of Interior

It is worth mentioning that challenging the religious authorities of some clerics or the established beliefs of some people and exploiting them to cause political confusion or wars driven by extremist religious thought is a guaranteed freedom of expression and is not subject to legal control. For example, the bitter criticisms that hit the highest religious authority in Libya (Libyan Fatwa House) The criticism is based on a genuine desire to change the exploitation based on the (religious immunity) and the mass base of the Mufti and his men, and the criticism and expression of politicians on the media considered it a hate speech directed at them, while a constructive expression guaranteed to all. Officials and statesmen view such criticism as a kind of hate speech as a pretext for silencing media men and for impunity.  There are also no specific legal limits to the protection of confidentiality by journalists, since there are no real guarantees that the media will cease to expose public and political figures and that any obligation to maintain personal confidentiality is nothing more than the conduct of the media as a matter of morality.

The media are less aware and more puzzled in their daily response. They are led by individuals governed by certain backgrounds, interlinked and unrelated to domestic politics, without the news values and international political systems of some media subjugate the tribe as a political tool that is more important than a state’s support for the event We are trying to strengthen this aspect and strengthen these tribal bodies more than anything else.  For example, hate speech driven by tribal intolerance is defined as a logical consequence of the range of experimental accumulations of information or the media, because it is therefore linked to domestic politics and tribal influence much more than foreign policy. This would implicitly affect Libya’s transition to a modern and civilian state.  In addition to the fact that the government has not yet done so, it has not yet done so. Etc.  Not to mention the unserious attempts at political polarization in Libya, it precludes direct access to an election event that is popularly and internationally expected. Many Libyan media are trying to convince public opinion that elections are an integral and difficult event, with security chaos, widespread weapons, and a lack of elites leading the election to safety – the right thing to do in its fear and its content, but its results are wrong. Political procrastination through the media to reach the elections by marketing the idea of the wrong timing is an effective contribution to prolonging the transition and the spread of the state’s absence further and consequently the complications of this disease increase day after day.

While the existing media forces are the same balance through the number of counter channels, modes of supply and inference used, as well as sources of internal and external financing, this makes the negative media situation so long as the funds provided for these channels and broadcasts remain in a state of unproductive condition (political investment in the media). Which accompanies any regional or global change – for example, Channel 218, which claims its neutrality or its support for liberal values in the establishment of the rule of law and the Constitution, also has certain external and ideological support that it cannot be neutral for as long as (the media deal is under contract) This does not make the media channel guilty, but it makes it under investigation and conditional professional binding.  On the other hand, Libya’s free channel, which attributes itself to the small and the biggest supporting incubator, the State of Qatar, which is mentioned by the free Libyan media as a sponsor and contribution to solving the Libyan conflict and reuniting the Libyan parties.

The real crossroads at which Libya’s current media stand is a series of conceptual disorders of a culture of peace, moderation, and peaceful coexistence among all Libyan components – today’s media is a woman of what is happening on the ground, a means of verbal and visual expression available to them to dump all the troubled concepts that some (and not all) possess. Through these platforms, the results from today’s hate speech are clear and measurable:

  • – A tribal conflict based on a political military and parliamentary quota, and this is the reason for the idea that exclusion is not based on the lack of qualifications and characteristics for political participation, but the exclusion was based on previous tribal relics.
  • – engaging in using extraneous violent terms such as stigmatization, exchange of charges without clear evidence, clear condemnation of media values, and immediate transfer of physical battles to offensive media battles on television, led by him in what he calls the media elite and parliamentary leaders.
  • – The transition political process has been attracted, drawn, and moved into advanced struggles – that would have not existed in case of accelerating election access, such as the political division of executive and parliamentary governments, financial institutions, etc.
  • – External escalation, tension between the parties currently in conflict and the task of finding solutions satisfactory to all parties is difficult.  These results highlight the fact that the language used in media is the solution to the ideal political solution. Among the features and characteristics of the typical media frameworks, language is the way to deliver messages of ending wars, conflicts and political differences.  Thus, we can summarize that hate speech, whatever it still shares and shares it directly with freedom of expression, but it contributed directly to the aggravation of the Libyan crisis in the media and on the ground, and that describing the quick treatments of this speech is the accurate diagnosis of the motives of each group for using it. In diagnosis, we can learn about treatment and preventive action whether it is through laws that control this speech and the strict punishment policy of those who lag behind it, or even through intensive training programs for them and their contribution to the development of the above-mentioned laws, or even through the establishment of an observatory that assesses and monitors professional breaches on the media.
  • – Finally – despite the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights, in which any claim of political, national or religious hatred that incites inequality and violence against others is prohibited, the cycle of conflict in Libya remains a continuous process, with the main thrust of the resulting media and critical dialogues.

مُتاح أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)

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