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Online hatred pushing minorities to the periphery: An analysis of Pakistani social media feeds

29 March 2021

This resource was produced by MRG’s partner(s) with MRG. It remains the property of the organization(s) in question and does not necessarily reflect the views of MRG.

Hate speech has long been pervasive in Pakistani society, especially directed towards individuals and groups belonging to minority faiths (and those of no faith). Those not following the majority’s Sunni faith, are given different titles and labels while several stereotypes are associated with different faiths, sects and religions, including Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, Sikhs and Shias. However, when it comes to online spaces where more and more people are joining different social media platforms to express their views and share their opinions (or those of others whom they support), these labels, titles and stereotypes get hugely amplified, attracting widespread attention across whole communities. This report offers an account of such expressions to understand the nature of religion-based hate speech in Pakistan’s Twitter and Facebook spheres in 2019/2020. The report documents Pakistan’s record vis a vis its international human rights commitments, as well as how un-countered hate speech is relevant to the review of Pakistan’s record under the European Union’s framework of Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+). This special trade status is granted by the European Union under certain economic conditions and allows a given country to export its products to European markets at a reduced or zero rate of duty. However, this status comes at the condition that states improve their fulfilment of international human rights and labour rights obligations.

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