Friday, July 30, 2021

‘Peace Hub’ Gambia Dismayed at Rising Hate Speech 

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As December 4th Draws Near

By Ndey Sowe

 ‘Peace Hub’ The Gambia, have expressed their dismay by strongly condemning the recent proliferation of hate and incendiary speeches across different social media platforms in the country.

“Recently, we have observed with dismay, the proliferation of hate and incendiary speeches which are potential violent conflict drivers that are making their rounds on different social media platforms, and we condemn this in the strongest possible terms,” Bakary Sonko, the National Coordinator of ‘Peace Hub’ The Gambia said in a press statement.

Sonko added that for all the obvious reasons, 2021 is a critical political year for The Gambia as it will mark the first Presidential election after twenty two years of dictatorship.

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“Arguably, there has never been a period when interest and stakes in politics are this high. Never! It is worthwhile for the citizenry to be proud of this development. Unfortunately, every genuine Gambian is concerned by the intolerant behavior and use of the vulgar language by certain people, against their fellow Gambians for reasons they know best,” Sonko said.

The peace advocate said his institution is concerned by this situation and consider this as a major threat to national peace and security as December 4th draws near.

“We call on all Gambians, both at home and abroad, to consider this as a revered responsibility to shun and discourage our constituents from casting bigotry statements against others, and peddling hate speech in our communities including social media. Like our forebears, we should continue to treasure our “Gambianness” above any other classification; celebrate our diversity and appreciate dissent; safeguard our peace and tranquility, and promote unity and development. This in itself is democracy as the political ideology is beyond voting. It encompasses respect for opinions different from one’s own and the rule of law.

Writing further, Sonko applauded Government agencies, political parties and their leaders, civil society organizations, activists and young people who came out, to condemn potential violent conflict drivers.

He however said as a country, people should consider punishing culprits of such behavior in order to build peaceful communities.

“Government and political leaders are role models to so many people. We challenge you to divert your traits to inspire into encouraging and championing the fight against hate speech, dangerous stereotypes and promote ‘one Gambia’ culture that has united and held our social fabric together for so long,” he remarked.

The peace advocate said December 4th 2021, is not the end of the Gambia, saying there are many generations yet to come.

“If these generations matter to us and we want to them remember us as great sons and daughters of this country, now is our challenge to set things right,” Sonko said; that as a peace building and social cohesion organization established to create a conducive environment for young people in peace building, they also promote reconciliation, as well as strengthen The Gambia’s transitional justice processes, by calling on people to refrain from spreading hate speech, and to encourage the promotion of peace and social harmony among the citizenry.

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