What is the “corona jihad”? In the time of a pandemic, how has hate speech made matters worse for the Muslim population in India? How do we curb hate speech online? These are just some of the questions that the report The Contagion of Hate in India aims to answer. Authored by Laxmi Murthy, a journalist based in Bangalore, India, the paper attempts to understand the phenomenon of hate speech and how it can lead to violence against its targets.
This paper attempts to understand the phenomenon of hate speech and its potential to legitimise discrimination and promote violence against its targets. It lays out the interconnections between Islamophobia, hate speech and acts of physical violence against Muslims. The role of social media, especially messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, in facilitating the easy and rapid spread of fake news and rumours and amplifying hate, is also examined The complexities of regulating social media platforms, which have immense political and corporate backing, have been touched upon.
This paper also looks at the contentious and contradictory interplay of hate speech with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression and recent jurisprudence on these matters. Finally, it presents some examples of the pushback of hate speech and outlines concerns that must be addressed to counter the spread of hatred.