Hate Speech and Incitement in Malaysia
In Preventing Hate Speech, Incitement, and Discrimination: Lessons on Promoting Tolerance and Respect for Diversity in the Asia Pacific, 119-158. Geneva: Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes, 2021
45 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2022
Date Written: 2021
This chapter examines how COVID-19 not only instigates hate speech and incitement but also increases the vulnerabilities of migrants and refugees in Southeast Asia. It starts with a regional overview of public attitudes towards foreigners and refugees before narrowing down to illustrate how and why the Rohingya populations have become the target of hate speech and incitement in Malaysia. The detailed examination of the Rohingya in Malaysia is motivated by the fact that hateful remarks were expressed by online social media users as if there was a consensus among the local population. It is thus highly significant to understand such a phenomenon. The findings reveal that the global pandemic heightened public anxieties and subsequently led to the proliferation of hate speech and incitement against “unwanted” foreigners perceived as intruders in the country. The situation was also significantly worsened by the wide spread of misinformation about victims of hate speech, which in turn resulted in incitement of violence.
Keywords: Hate speech, Rohingya, refugees, Malaysia, COVID-19
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