By Nourhan Dakroury
Nine human rights organisations issued a statement on Saturday condemning “hate speech” from local media outlets against Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Egypt, describing it as “irresponsible” and as an “incitement that threatens more than 200,000 Syrian refugees living in Egypt under unenviable circumstances.”
The organisations strongly condemned remarks by personality Youssef El-Husseiny on his show on ONTV Live, claiming that his words suggested violating the law and human rights when dealing with political opposition or with Syrian refugees.
El-Husseiny had said on his show on Thursday that Syrian refugees who are supporting former president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood should “man up” and go back to Syria. He said that if they interfere in Egyptian interior affairs, Egyptians will “deal with them and not according to the law.”
Shortly after, ONTV issued an apology to Syrian refugees in Egypt in an official statement, saying that the words were not meant to incite any hate towards Syrians in Egypt, and that they will remain to support the Syrian revolution.
Separately, Tawfik Okasha, owner of Al-Faraeen channel, had called on “everyone who sees a Syrian, a Palestinian or an Iraqi on the street to hand them over to the police.”
The group statement also condemned “false” remarks by media figures such as Lamis El-Hadidy and Amr Adib about Palestinian people, adding that such information could spread hate against Palestinians.
“The rights organisations stress on the importance that media figures and outlets bear responsibility for the information they spread since it has great influence on citizens,” read the statement, adding that celebrities must be aware of the fine line between freedom of expression and the use of hateful and inciting speech.
The rights organisations, including the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), blamed the different governments, which were appointed after the January 25th Revolution, “for their negligence towards the escalation of incitement in various situations,” pointing out the case where four Shi’a Muslims were killed due to incitement campaigns lead by religious channels.
The nine organisations called on the media to pay attention to the international guidelines for human rights, and also for the Egyptian authorities in charge during the interim period to take serious measures against those accused of incitement.