Humans have been discussing religion, culture, and politics with each other for thousands of years. Because of the internet, now general people have a platform where they can talk about such topics with each other without any hassle. This has given a way to express our thoughts, feelings, and talk to each other. Unfortunately, many of these “talks” aren’t all that civil. They can be insensitive, aggressive, or downright hateful. These are considered “hate speech” and they can be targeted at anybody regarding any topic or issue.
It is easy to spread hate online because of the lack of consequences. People easily get offended or try to offend each other online. The easiest way to offend someone is to attack their religious belief because of how sacred it is to them. Nowadays, religious intolerance is becoming very common on the internet and many people are participating in it one or way another. Some people directly do this and some indirectly, and most of them do it without understanding its consequences. Even you may have spread hate and intolerance towards other people’s beliefs online. Understanding how these are done is the first way to avoid it.
Direct hateful attacks towards other religions
Sometimes people deliberately attack others’ faiths on social media platforms. In fact, there are various groups on Facebook, Reedit, or other social media platform that allows them. Usually, these kinds of hateful groups are created in the guise of religious groups but they share a lot of posts that directly insult other religions. The worse thing is, they also share a lot of misinformation or half-truths. Unfortunately, many people on social media can’t distinguish between truths and false, so they accept the posts from these groups at face value and then share them. Thus, hates continue and misinformation spread among others. It’s not just ignorant people who fall for this. Educated people also share posts like this because they just want to believe the “negative truth”; so they never bother fact-checking.
Sometimes people directly attack other religions through comments, messages, and posts. In certain cases, these people do it as trolling but there are greater consequences for it. When you are insulting another religious group and its people, you are setting an example of what your community and religion is about. For example when hundreds of people from one group comment insults and hateful messages against a certain religion, then somebody from that religion may become hateful towards people of that former group. These don’t only work for religious people but also for atheists.
The indirect spread of religious intolerance
While some people attack other religions directly, some do it in an indirect or sub-conscious way. Let’s take a look at two examples. A news article is shared about a Hindu festival; in the comment section, a Muslim expresses his opinion regarding how absurd such a festival is. Also, another news article is shared about Muslim animal sacrifice in Eid al-Adha; in the comment section, a Vegan expresses his opinion regarding how barbaric it is. Both of them are entitled to their opinion and can share it. But, the way they chose to do it is so unwelcoming that it just results in the spread of “intolerance”. That comment section wasn’t really the place to provide such opinions and nobody asked for it to begin with. By going out of their way to make such statements they are showing a sign of intolerance towards other faiths.
People also do it through “what-about-ism”. For example, a post is shared about the Uighur Muslim genocide and then someone comments “what about Yazidi genocide by Muslims terrorists?” Similarly, a post is shared about attacks on Hindu families in Pakistan or Bangladesh, and then, someone comments “what about Muslim killings in India?” While these kinds of questions are valid, they are making this when they are irrelevant. They are disregarding one case of injustice by diverting attention to another. Sometimes they even indirectly justify those injustices through such actions. This is a sign of pure intolerance and hypocrisy.
Sometimes it doesn’t need any word to insult others’ faiths. If a post about someone’s religion is shared and then a group of people angry or laugh react to it; then it serves as a sign of insult towards followers of that religion.
People who indirectly spread intolerances are sometimes unaware of it. If they are aware of it, they never want to admit. They consider such messages as “logical criticism” or “Valid question”. But, their way of presenting such statements doesn’t provide any answers or raise awareness. It only serves to insult other groups and spread hate.
We must remember to act towards other the same way we want others to act towards us.
Increase in online hate speech leads to more crimes against minorities. (2019, 10 15). Retrieved from PHYS.org: https://phys.org/news/2019-10-online-speech-crimes-minorities.html
Laub, Z. (2019, 7 7). Hate Speech on Social Media: Global Comparisons. Retrieved from Council on Foreign Relations : https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/hate-speech-social-media-global-comparisons