Minister of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Fahd Al-Afasi was in Khartoum on Tuesday to participate in the meetings of Arab justice ministers. The minister told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) that Kuwait submitted a draft law to prevent hate speech to the meeting and stressed that the proposal, once approved, will promote the integration and establishment of an Arab unit.
The Executive Office of the Council of Arab Ministers of Justice was held in the Sudanese capital with the participation of Kuwait and other Arab countries such as Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, Comoros, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. I believe that it is good that Kuwait made the effort to present such a project and I hope that it will be implemented in practical terms soon, because the discourse of hatred and extremism has become evident globally and poses a threat to the lives of innocent people.
Therefore, I believe collective action is required to counter groups that benefit from all means of technology and information today to promote ideas of hatred and hostility against different beliefs and ideas, and not necessarily other religions. The term ‘hate speech’ has become widely known and become very influential in Arab societies, and is expanding at a time when societies are heavily dependent on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and other e-communities to shape or reshape opinions, especially young people.
The second thing here is that the choice of Sudan is correct and wise because Sudan is about to enter a new stage to strengthen its economy. It’s about time. In 1993, Washington placed Khartoum on the list of state sponsors of terrorism on the pretext of supporting militant Islamist groups and bombed industrial facilities in Khartoum in 1998. The impact of this on the Sudanese economy lead to a shortage in foreign currencies, as international banks refrained from making transfers from Sudanese banks.
The lifting of the name of Sudan from the list by Washington will be a message to all investors to support the economy of Sudan and take advantage of the many resources of the country without restrictions, and clearly the Sudanese government has been working on this matter. I also believe the support of Arab countries such as Kuwait and other GCC states is essential for speeding up this process. There is an opportunity for all now.
This month, the Sudanese foreign ministry announced that Washington and Khartoum have agreed to start the second phase of a strategic dialogue with the aim of lifting Sudan from the list of countries supporting terrorism. Economists say Sudan’s presence on the list of state sponsors of terrorism with Iran, North Korea and Syria is keeping investors and foreign banks away from dealing with it.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has announced its willingness to remove Sudan from the list of countries supporting terrorism if Khartoum carries out further reforms. The meeting is over now, but recommendations must start and the media must play its role as one team, whether owned by the government or the private sector.
Moreover, reconsideration of educational curricula is also an important issue, and should be free of ideas or topics that encourage hate or extremist tendencies. I believe that media and education have a key role in leading and spreading hateful ideas. Nowadays, media channels are often used for insulting and slandering for political reasons, making hate media a tool of war and a threat to the lives of innocent people that endangers peaceful societies.
I think the road may seem long to achieve such calls, but this is a successful start.
By Muna Al-Fuzai