The Hatred Dictionary... Terms that impact the Social Peace in Iraq
In its 30th report, the "Iraqi Media House" addresses one important aspect of the hatred speech found in the media as well as on social networking websites and the internet which the Media House dubbed "The Hatred Dictionary". This Dictionary includes hatred-related terms and vocabulary that have become dangerously common and found a place for itself in the local culture. People often use those hatred terms in their discussions and dialogues on political, security and social issues.
The "Hatred Dictionary" comes as part of the Iraqi Media House's concern with monitoring the hatred speech in Iraq being one of the risks that has been threatening social peace and security for the last ten years. Moreover, the fact that Iraqi media outlets played a significant role in the growth and spread of this speech in the absence of a legal system and professional codes that would otherwise put an end to this phenomenon has made the situation even worse.
The Iraqi Media House published its biggest report titled "Hatred Supporters" which included the monitoringof approximately 955 episodes of various talk shows in 15 different local TV channels that are broadcasted inside and outside Iraq. Those channels included dialogues and statements made by 694 guest politicians and members of the House of Representatives and the government, in addition to a series of immediate reports that monitored several incidents including "a fabricated press release that deepens the mutual hatred speech in Iraq" and "The kidnapping of an Iraqi female journalist as a proof of the hatred speech that the media as a profession is facing". On the other hand, the new report focuses on some terms and vocabulary that together constitute a dictionary of hatred and violence speech which is being used by both public and popular figures.
"The Iraqi Media House" emphasizes that the report was completed through the efforts of a limited number of observers based on the nature, rules and requirements of the wide monitoring and observation of the hatred speech. Preparing the report required conducting several reviews of the social networking websites, the media outlets and the internet which covered thousands of posts and tweets over a course of three months in order to count and document the largest possible number of hatred phrases and terms.
The "Iraqi Media House" takes into consideration that the hatred speech remains one of the most complicated terms on the global level due to its overlap with the concepts of the freedom of opinion and the freedom of speech. Therefore the "Hatred Dictionary" report focuses on the terms and phrases that include calls for murder, violence, revenge, exclusion, contempt, discrimination and insult which are major constituents of the hatred speech. This speech results in violent reactions that in turn lead to direct violent physical acts.
The "Hatred Dictionary" includes terms and phrases that have been arranged alphabetically that target sects, nationalities and human groups of a religious and political nature. Those terms and phrases began to penetrate the Iraqi popular language and are used for the purpose of showing hatred, sarcasm and contempt toward social, religious, ethnic and national groups in general. Those who use these terms take advantage of the absence of a legal or personal deterrent. The Iraqi Media House states this continuous act represents a major threat that prevents social peace and security from being fulfilled in the country. Moreover, fixing this problem will require substantial time and effort, but what is crucial is to begin fixing it as soon as possible. The Iraqi Media House hopes that these monitoring efforts can be used as a starting point toward achieving this goal.
The "Hatred Dictionary" project is the first of its kind in Iraq that is dedicated to the monitoring and observation of the hatred phrases and those who spread them. The Media House believes that spreading the hatred speech reports that focus on the professional documentation of the public and popular figures and introducing them to the public can help control this extreme speech and deter its propagators in a country that lacks solid research institutions. In addition to that, the hatred speech propagators feel that they are not watched and their speech is not documented in the media which negatively impacts the efforts being made to achieve social security and peace.
One of the factors that contributed to this speech was the local audio, visual and printed media. Therefore, the "Iraqi Media House" has taken upon itself to monitor the various media institution in Iraq in what has become a very complicated and difficult mission especially in light of the absence of institutions and projects that resemble this important effort. Most of the governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations that work in the field of media and journalism in Iraq after 2003 have focused on supporting the media institutions and journalists morally rather than financially. Such kind of support would have been crucial in reinforcing the required expertise in the journalism field and would have ensured that the journalists will not violate the work ethics or take advantage of it and use it as a platform to propagate the hatred speech.
The "Iraqi Media House" calls upon the public to contribute to supplying the dictionary with other terms that are more compliant with the controls that the monitoring report included. The officials at the Iraqi Media House have decided to make the "Hatred Dictionary" report amendable where new elements can be added and the largest number of specialists, elites and the public can be involved to produce a first-of-its-kind dictionary that monitors the hatred phrases and act as a key element in more comprehensive future studies.
The monitoring has resulted in the following:
1. The majority of the monitored hatred terms originate from extreme religious and legislative provisions, out-of-context provisions or anonymous religious provisions that spread and penetrate the society because they are adopted by public religious, political and social figures. Those figures managed to spread those terms to the public through various media platforms, social networking websites and the internet.
2. The observers at the Iraqi Media House noticed that these phrases have become heavily used by the public in their discussions and debates on the social networking websites, and in most cases those discussions are lengthy lasting for few days and take the form of campaigns and counter campaigns in which hundreds of people participate. These people share and endorse these posts for one purpose, to defeat the other side.
3. The majority of the hatred phrases were first introduced by extreme clergymen, politicians and public figures through talk shows in the local and Arab TV channels. After that, many individuals and groups spread those phrases through posts or videos that included calls to spread the phrases which eventually reached hundreds of thousands of people on the social networking websites.
4. It was found that some media platforms still use these phrases on the internet and the TV in the absence of any deterrence.
5. The Media House's observers found that the increase in the use of hatred phrase often goes hand in hand with the political crises and security incidents that are taking the country by storm. The use of such phrases persists and lasts for weeks, which eventually made them very common and thus became part of the public culture and language.
6. The Media House's observers also noticed that the posts that include one of the hatred phrases often attract much interaction on the social networking websites where hundreds of interactions with these posts take place. The hatred posts are also shared across personal profiles and the comments often become a place where aggressive discussions between the followers take place. On the other hand, calls for moderate speech fail to garner much attention from the people.
1. Activate applicable legal and constitutional provisions for incitement that focus on those who commit such acts whether individuals or institutions, most notably Article Seven of the Iraqi Constitution which states: "Any entity or approach that adopts racism, terrorism, accusing others of being disbelievers "Takfir", or sectarian cleansing, or incites, introduces, glorifies, promotes or justifies such ideas shall be prohibited and banned". Also, the Penal Code and its Article (47) which states: "Whoever forces any person to commit a crime shall be considered as the original criminal and will be met with a punishment that is given to the perpetrator based on the instigator's act. According to this, the instigator is considered a criminal". This effort shall also include the enactment of new legislations that are in line with the social and technological developments, especially those that are related to the internet and the social networking websites.
2. The Iraqi public prosecution must act fast as part of its duties that are stated in the Public Prosecution Act that was approved by the Parliament in the Eighth of November, 2016. The Fifth Article of this Act states that among the duties of the Public Prosecution are: First "Filing a public interest litigation, as well as financial and administrative corruption and following-up on the same". Second, "To monitor the criminal investigations and evidence collection that is required in the investigation of these crimes, in addition to taking all measures that help reveal the hidden aspects of the crimes", especially given the fact that the platforms used to incite violence are increasing and spreading left and right in public. Such things do not require lengthy investigations to be revealed.
3. In continuation of the legal enforceability, non-governmental institutions and organizations as well as civil groups need to start filing lawsuits to prosecute those who commit incitement as well as hatred speech and violence propagators in the media at the Publishing Court, and encourage individuals to take similar steps toward creating a public opinion that has the potential to deter those who propagate hatred and hold them accountable.
4. Launch a comprehensive campaign to put pressure on the media institutions in order to organize a "binding charter" in cooperation with the related committees at the House of Representatives and other concerned civil institutions. Such charter would prohibit the publishing or broadcasting of any media products that call for hatred or encourage racism in any form whatsoever. It shall also state the importance of respecting the identity of the minority groups, as well as the small ethnic groups in their media speeches.
5. To have the institutions of the civil society and the civil events adopt and organize conferences and workshops that focus on training young people on the issues related to the development of the culture of tolerance and the acceptance of the other. Such events must also educate those young people on the risks that result from the spread of the hatred speech and the implications of such risks on the social peace and security. Moreover, they should emphasize the necessity to differentiate between the hatred speech and freedom of opinion.
6. To work on reviewing the religious discourse and speech in Iraq since it is considered one of the main sources that shape the social culture in the country. It is necessary to educate the clergy about this issue and encourage them to stop promoting extreme ideas whether intentionally or unintentionally through historical narratives and stories that affect the society. The problem here is that those stories that are spread by the clergy are being projected onto the modern world and often represent a rich material for starting aggressive discussions on social networking websites. In fact, the majority of the phrases that are found in the Hatred Dictionary originated from religious texts and provisions.
7. To work on forming an Arab regional coalition to fight the hatred speech, especially that the extremist speech platforms go beyond the country's borders, and many hatred phrases and the resulting aggressive debates on the social networking websites and the media originate from the clergy or from Arab and regional public figures that have influence inside Iraq. Some local media and religious platforms propagate speeches against some Arab and regional entities which drives toward inciting the public opinion that result lead to divisions among the people making them into conflicting groups that fight each other on sectarian, political or social basis.
Click on the link to download media monitoring in Arabic only, for قاموس الكراهية