Anti-religious hate speech has seen a rapid rise since the 2016 Independence Referendum. This rise has seen various forms of aggression and violence towards religious groups living in the UK. Much of Twitter has descended into a battlefield of conflicting ideologies. I met with the charity Get the Trolls Out to find out more about the issues of anti-religious hate speech and the ways in which they are combatting it.
The primary group which are subject to the most anti-religious abuse are Muslims. Due to many terrorist attacks perpetrated in the name of the Islamic State, some of the British population has become increasingly scared of and aggressive towards the Muslim population, both physically and online.
Muslims make up just 5 per cent of the UK population but due to right-wing publications such as The Daily Mail and The Sun this figure has been perceived to be far greater. When the British public were surveyed, they believed that 22 per cent were actually Muslim in the UK. The distortion of the truth by the media is a significant cause for concern when protecting our democratic values and liberties.
Another group which is highly marginalised by certain members of the populous are those of Jewish faith. Although the atrocities of the Holocaust are still present in History classrooms and memorials all over the country, 5 per cent still believe that the holocaust didn’t happen. This denialism and religious intolerance breeds hatred and causes much of the anti-Semitic beliefs published online. A UN report found that multiple newspapers in the UK were not dissimilar from Nazi propaganda.
From the perspective of someone still in education, I feel that open religious hate speech is less prevalent, but there is however an ingrained feeling of prejudice against religious minorities. Fuelled by what they have seen online and the constant recycling of stories spun to make religion the key aspect of why a bad thing was done, a deep scepticism is fostered towards others. I have heard from multiple individuals the comment that the reason they dislike Sadiq Khan is because of his faith. Since when did this become a way to judge one’s political credibility?
Another statistic which is manipulated significantly is that religious people, and immigrants, commit significantly higher levels of crime. This however is not the case. Police England report that crime levels from other religions are consistently lower than those who identify as Christian or as having no religious beliefs. In other words, the majority of the British population.
Get the Trolls Out have posed a novel solution in countering the way in which the media and individuals express their objections with those of other faiths. The method which they use debunks false statements and presents the actual facts of the matter. Their regular Troll of the Month section allows followers to see those who have been proven wrong by the charity and get the full story. The charity also works with many representatives of all religions from across Europe and is helping to abolish anti-religious sentiment online, through its guidance to internet users on how to combat Trolls on Twitter and various other platforms.
There is still a significant way to go when it comes to the eradication of religious hatred. It is an issue that has plagued our species for many centuries and is one that has proven very difficult to crush. However, with the valuable work of charities such as Get the Trolls Out, the goal of living in a nation free of anti-religious behaviour online and off is becoming more tangible.
For more information go to: Get the Trolls Out Website: https://www.getthetrollsout.org/