Hate speech

The culture of hate speech that developed with the discourse of burying corpses

Nevil Uditha Weerasinghe

Facebook interprets Hate Speech as: 

“A direct attack on individuals based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious illness or disability. When age is paired with another safety feature, we protect against age-related attacks and also provide some protection for the migratory condition. We define attack as violent or inhumane speech, malicious stereotypes, derogatory remarks or demands for exclusion or segregation. ”

Over the past few months, there has been a flurry of hate speech on social media in Sri Lanka and some mainstream media in connection with the burial of Muslims who died of Covid-19. Following the government’s refusal to bury the bodies of Muslims who died of the virus in Sri Lanka in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), there may have been hate speech in various media outlets against the views expressed by the Muslim community regarding the violation of a fundamental religious right of Muslims in Sri Lanka. Ali Sabri, the Minister of Justice, can be identified as the central figure who has been the target of these hate speech attacks in the past few months.

An article published on November 13th 2020 in the Divaina newspaper, Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera spoke against the burial of Covid infected bodies of Muslims, saying “Ali Sabri cannot be allowed to change the laws of the country because he is the Minister of Justice.

Islamophobia has become more prevalent for the Muslim community, and Justice Minister Ali Sabri has been chosen as the main target of anti-Muslim hate speech on Facebook and YouTube. The Minister of Justice has been subjected to anti-Muslim hate speech since November 2020, especially due to his stance on burials” said the Hashtag Generation. 

In an interview with Ali Sabri, Divaina Irida Sangraha said, “Today you know that a section of the Sinhala community is using social media to slander and slander me. They allege that I am manipulating this issue for the benefit of the Muslim community. The other is that you see only one side of the issue. You do not see the Muslims attacking the Tamil language on Facebook and social media… The accusation leveled by them is completely different from the accusation leveled by the Sinhala community. They say that I am betraying the just proposals and demands of the Muslim community as well as sensitive issues to the Rajapaksa government … 

In response to a query from the Island newspaper, Minister Sabri said that he had made this clear to all concerned, both inside and outside the Parliament, and that there were many who were seeking permission to bury the bodies of Muslims who had died of Covid-19 in accordance with WHO regulations.

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The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

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