During May 2021, the European Liberal Forum, in collaboration with Projekt:Polska, ran a campaign to raise awareness about hate speech in Europe. We showcased the testimonies of individuals who have experienced hate speech in Poland with the purpose of showing that hate speech is very present and very real in Europe.
Through short interviews we amplified the voices of a transgender women, a Muslim refugee, and a Polish MP. Their testimonies helped us understand the devastating psychological effects hate speech can have. Emilia Wisniewska, a transgender woman, walks the streets with fear of what might happen next. For Joanna Grabarczyk, the hateful comments she received for her work defending hate speech victims stayed in her head for months.
Furthermore, we were inspired by Elsi Adajew’s story fleeing war-torn Chechenia. After enduring the hardships of war, once in Poland, he received hateful comments in school for being Muslim and a refugee.
Finally, during this month, we learnt how to respond to hate speech. Joanna Grabarczyk highlighted the importance of seeking professional help for victims. For her part, MP Monika Rosa pointed to raising awareness and educating society to know the limits of freedom of speech as the way forward to combating hate speech in our societies.
This campaign has served as an inspiration to continue our work of promoting human rights, democracy and liberal values.
Hate speech threatens the achievements of liberal democracy. It is like a virus that attacks open societies as well as European citizens’ rights and freedoms.
In today’s Europe, no place is free from hate speech. According to a 2016 Eurobarometer, three quarters of EU citizens have experienced hate speech on social media. We must fight back by raising awareness and educating people.
In this effort, during the month of May 2021, the European Liberal Forum, in collaboration with Projekt:Polska, will showcase the testimonies of individuals who have experienced hate speech in Poland. Understanding their stories will serve as an inspiration to continue our work of promoting human rights, democracy and liberal values.
Monika receives hateful comments via social media for her work defending women’s, refugees’ and LGBTIQ rights in the Polish parliament.
Elsi experienced hate speech in school for being Muslim and a refugee.
Joanna was publicly demonised on national TV for her work defending hate speech victims.
Emilia experienced hate speech for being a transgender woman.