Religious and Anti-religious Hatred: Reflections on the January 2024 Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on FoRB

Nazila Ghanea, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

In January 2024, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) Nazila Ghanea published a new thematic report titled “Hatred on the Basis of Religion or Belief.” The theme chosen by the Special Rapporteur could hardly be more topical: the report was issued against a trending backdrop of social hostilities toward religious minorities in many parts of the world, where governments and/or influential social actors inspire, encourage, and incite hatred against small and unpopular religious communities and other vulnerable groups.

The report deals with issues such as the nature of hate speech based on religion or belief, the proper balance between freedom of expression and anti-hate measures, and techniques for preventing, monitoring, and combating hate speech, including employing a variety of legal and extralegal tools. The report insists that “prohibitions and counter-speech approaches may arrive too late to address the root causes of hatred towards particular groups.” Rather, what is required is earlier, more comprehensive, and more coordinated interventions from governments, religious or belief groups, and civil society to address structural causes and preconditions for spreading hatred and discrimination.

In this series, FoRB researchers and experts share their reflections on Ghanea’s report and, more broadly, on religiously motivated hatred and ways to address it.

Posts in the Series:

Eugenia Relaño Pastor. Applying Vernacularization to Hate Speech Based on Religion or Belief: A Short Exploration 

Montserrat Gas-Aixendri. Hatred on Religious Grounds and the Risk of Double Standards

Jagbir Jhutti-Johal. How Does Hate Speech Directed at One Community Affect Another Community?

Alberto Jose Ferrari Puerta. The Real Danger of Hate Speech and Its Impact on Vulnerable Groups