Antigypsyism and antisemitism rooted in European culture for centuries, experts discuss the causes of online hate
The ROMEA organization held two online conferences, one about the phenomenon of antisemitism and one about the phenomenon of antigypsyism in the Internet environment and their historical roots, as part of the international project Remember and Act! (Re-ACT) together with the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH), LICRA and SYNYO. Both conferences and the subsequent specialized workshops were attended by roughly 40 experts from almost 20 countries worldwide, including Canada, Germany, Israel, Romania and Spain. Both events were organized as collaborations with the European Roma Grassroots Organisations network (ERGO).
The main contribution to the online conference about antigypsyism was made by Gwendolyn Albert, a consultant to the ROMEA organizations who has long been researching discrimination and human rights violations against Romani people in the Czech Republic and abroad. She focused on contemporary forms of antigypsyism on social media.
"Both antigypsyism and antisemitism are rooted in centuries of European imaginings about how to define members of the 'nation' or the polity," she said. "Scholars such as Sarah Carmona and others have been tracing the visual imagery in European culture that has been used to exoticize Romani people and render them 'foreign', and aspects of that imagery are being recycled on social media today."
Mark Gardner of the British organization Community Security Trust, which is involved in monitoring antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia generally, as well as defending the victims of violence committed with that motivation in Great Britain, was the main speaker in the online conference dedicated to antisemitism.
Both speakers focused on illuminating the ideological background to these contemporary phenomena and how they are connected to previously-expressed concepts of hatred against the Jewish and Romani minorities that were exploited, for example, by Nazi propaganda.
During the workshops that followed the main thematic blocs, experts on online hate speech, people working with youth, historians and experts in human rights shared their experiences from practice and discussed what they need in the area of combating antigypsyism and antisemitism in cyberspace and beyond. Together they did their best to identify educational materials, examples of good practice, and instruments that have stood the test of time in preventing racism, xenophobia and other forms of hate speech being disseminated both offline and online through various platforms.
The willingness of experts to share their experience and knowledge is an essential component of project Re-ACT!, the aim of which is to raise awareness about the motivations of those committing these acts by analysing hateful practices and hate speech and how to defend the online space against them effectively. This effort is appearing more and more necessary today given that those who directly witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust are passing away and the number of people doubting what impacts the ideology of the Nazis had is increasing.
As part of projectu Re-ACT we will be creating an educational "hub" online, a centre for sharing educational and methodological materials where professionals such as teachers, those who work with youth, or civil society representatives, as well as the broader public, will find up-to-date, verified information and recommendations in the area of online prevention of hatred against Jewish people, Romani people and other marginalized groups, as well as about the context of the current state of affairs.
Currently it is also possible to join project Re-ACT by completing an online questionnaire, the results of which will be used to create and establish the future educational hub online. Share your experience with antigypsyism and antisemitism, both offline and online, and let your voice be heard by participating in the survey HERE.
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