Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Commissioner For Protection of Equality Established That Kurir Daily Did Not Discriminated Against Refugees And Migrants

Acting upon Praxis complaint, the Commissioner for Protection of Equality established that the article “An Increasing Number of Refugees: Migrants will Soon Islamise Serbia”, published by Kurir Daily in the e-issue as of 2 August 2015, does not contain any violation of rights in accordance with the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination.

In its complaint, Praxis pointed that disputable text contributes to spreading of fear, creating of hostile environment and deepening of social distance of the citizens towards refugees and migrants, who are currently one of the most vulnerable groups in Serbia. Groundless emphasizing that refugees will soon Islamise Serbia and highlighting that “special risk is the fact that those with combat experience were found among the refugees entering Serbia“ creates atmosphere of fear, incites discrimination and intolerance, which is contrary to national and international regulations. It is stated in the text that “an increasing number of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia takes not only the risk of islamisation of Europe, but it will soon make Serbia one of their permanent habitat”. In this way, refuges and migrants were marked as holders of “risk” of islamisation, and at same time it is suggested that due to assumed religious affiliation, Serbia should not be a place of their permanent habitant.

The Commissioner for Protection of Equality is of the opinion that the text contains mainly the opinions and attitudes of analysts and “given than media have the right to report on different phenomena, give and transmit different information and attitudes, it would be unacceptable to hold the author/editor-in-chief accountable for transmitting the opinions of other people on phenomena in society that are the subject of public discussion”. At the same time, the Commissioner states that there is no distinction or unequal acting towards refugees and migrants on the basis of religious affiliation.

Despite the opinion of the Commissioner, Praxis believes that that responsibility of media cannot be excluded or diminished by the fact that opinions of other persons are “just” transmitted in the text. We agree that democratic society needs freedom of expression, but not at the cost of xenophobic, disturbing and discriminatory allegations, opinions and attitudes.

Concluding that writing of Kurir Daily does not represent unequal acting towards refugees on the basis of personal characteristic, an oportunity is missed to clearly indicate the responsibility of media when reporting and obligation not to contribute with writing to discrimination and spreading of xenophobia.

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