GROUP DISCUSSION (30 MIN)
Give each group marker pens and the four pre-prepared flipchart sheets with questions 1 to 4 written up. Ask them to record their answers on the flipchart sheets.
GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. What risks and vulnerabilities did the blasphemy law contribute to in this scenario? How did the blasphemy law interrelate to other problems in Saraa’s society.
2. How do blasphemy laws create risks in your context? What do those risks look like?
3. Should any of the speech/expression illustrated in this case be limited by law? Why/why not?
4. In your context, what advantages or disadvantages would there be to having ‘hate speech’ laws that
restrict incitement to violence, as compared to blasphemy laws?
PLENARY FEEDBACK (20 MIN)
Ask the spokesperson for group 1 to share their answer to the first question. Ask the other groups if they agree or disagree or have anything to add. If any group disagrees, ask them to explain their reasoning. Continue with question 2 to the group 2 spokesperson and so on.
Round off the feedback session with some general comments such as the following:
It can seem logical and moral to ban offensive speech and behaviour, in order to protect social harmony. It is, however, impossible to define what is offensive. Some people are offended by the mere existence of ideas other than their own. According to international law, the speech that should be banned is hate speech that incites discrimination, hatred and violence. Laws on blasphemy, apostasy and ‘protecting social harmony’ are usually much broader than this. They tend to:
- be vague making it hard to know what is considered illegal.
- define offence from a majority perspective (in practice if not in theory).
- be open to abuse and false accusations – it’s hard to prove you didn’t say something.
- encourage violence by supporting the idea that we should punish people who peacefully express beliefs that the majority don’t like.
- result in people who peacefully express their beliefs being blamed for social tensions. People who react to peaceful expression with hatred and violence should bear that responsibility.
TIP! In some contexts, this might be challenging to facilitate. Build your confidence as a facilitator by reviewing our ‘Tips for facilitators’ and ‘Responding to tricky questions’ .
TIP! This exercise is long and requires concentration. Why not schedule a break or introduce an energiser at this point. Find inspiration in the ‘Icebreakers and energisers’ section.
ROLE-PLAY DISCUSSION (25 MIN)
Ask participants to return to their groups and explain that they are now going to do a role-play exercise in which they will imagine that they live and work in Saara’s city. Give each group a role:
Group 1 is a group of local politicians and the national member of parliament in Saara’s city.
Group 2 is the interfaith council of the city – a group of faith leaders.
Group 3 is an informal network of journalists and media outlets in the city.
Group 4 is the board of the education department, that employs school and university staff in the city.
Tell everyone that their group has gathered together in the light of what has happened to Saara, because they are concerned by the impact blasphemy accusations, hate speech and violence are having on the community. They are concerned that politicians, faith leaders, journalists and educational institutions are, at times, contributing to the problems.
Each group has decided to develop a code of conduct for their own sector – a list of dos and don’ts for politicians, faith leaders, journalists or schools/universities.
Ask the groups to spend 20 minutes writing their code of conduct on a flipchart sheet. They should appoint a note-taker and a rapporteur.
PRESENTATIONS AND FEEDBACK (30 MIN)
Invite each group to present their conclusions. After each presentation invite the other groups to share their thoughts. Which suggestions would be most important or effective? Are there any dos or don’ts they would want to add to the list. Are any of the ideas presented problematic?