Freedom of speech and expression is a universal human right, which can be used to express an opinion without fear or censorship, but in our society it is increasingly being abused and becoming a training ground for violating the human right to dignity, said the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, Brankica Janković.
Humiliating statements, spreading hatred, insults based on ethnicity, attacks on the families of political opponents, belittling a person’s origin, sexism, giving alleged health diagnoses, as well as the use of Nazi symbols such as the swastika, are increasingly becoming not only an acceptable but even a desirable narrative. The term fascism is becoming an almost everyday part of confrontations between political opponents in public space, with no awareness of what the term means and what actual consequences it has led to. The use of Nazi symbols and insignia must not be the subject of any political confrontation, nor should it be used in a humorous or satirical context. Serbia was among the key participants in the anti-fascist struggle, and that is a tradition that we should proudly cherish, and not lightly call each other fascists in political conflicts.
The consequences are already worrying, and they can be immeasurable and affect the whole society. It is the responsibility of each individual, but above all the holders of public office, politicians and the media, who must not be promoters of insults, disqualifications, and especially hate speech. Such an atmosphere contributes to generating various types of violence, and that is why we should all be aware of how short the path is from verbal threats and conflicts, through hate speech, to their escalation into open physical violence, the Commissioner concluded.