In the first week of November (1-9 November 2019), 42 participants from six countries across Europe: Romania, Latvia, Republic of North Macedonia, Malta, Turkey and Estonia, came together for a Youth exchange ‘Act Now: Stop Hate Speech Now!’ in Sinaia, Romania. The Erasmus+ project put together by the Romanian youth organization ACT O’CLOCK continues to reduce the use of hate speech by spreading awareness on the subject.
“Hate speech covers many forms of expressions which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against a person or group of persons for a variety of reasons.” (Council of Europe, 2019.)
Widely spread misconceptions about the connection of freedom of speech and hate speech remain a major factor in keeping countries from creating anti-hate speech laws. The complaints vary from the vagueness of the laws to the refusal to accept any laws limiting free speech.
On the 4th day of the Erasmus+ mobility, the participants decided to create a flash mob. Split into 4 groups, the flash mob group started to plan out their performance. After discussing between themselves what to do, they settled on a performance based on love, using the songs “Imagine” by John Lennon and “Where is the love” by The Black Eyed Peas. This was to pass on a message to the local community about love and acceptance.
Throughout the week some of the participants had the opportunity to lead workshops which examined different aspects of hate speech. Towards the end of the project, the city manager of Sinaia, Marian-Valerie Panait visited the venue as well, to discuss the topic and answer questions regarding hate speech in Europe. The session analysed various forms of hate speech, and how to tackle them in our societies.