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“Being bullied for wearing hijab made me change schools”

I was bullied because I was wearing the Hijab and it made me change school 3 times, but I’d rather change schools than my values.



Muslim woman being bullied for wearing hijab

I still hear the echoes of my fellow classmates; “Oi, you! Is that a tea towel on your head?” As you can tell, I was bullied for wearing the hijab.

I still hear the snickers and gossip behind me, feel the tug at my headscarf from behind to forcibly remove it.

I changed high school three times due to bullying and social exclusion because of the cloth I wore over my hair. In the second one particularly – an all white school, – no one would sit with me, except the already unpopular kids, because my religious beliefs were ostentatious enough to show everyone I wasn’t up for partying and drinking or going out late with friends.

I missed out on all the new friendships and connections made outside of school. This impacted my education in a negative way. My teachers even assumed I was stupid because I was wearing a “repressive” item of clothing. But the hijab was and still is a fundamental part of my faith and a core part of my identity. I’d rather change schools than remove that ‘tea towel’ on my head.

Reading the recent study conducted by professor Eric Maurin and Nicolas Navarrete, on the effect of the infamous French Hijab ban in schools made me angry. The conclusions so hastily and inaccurately drawn from the study merit indignation. That indignation stems from the feeling that some people feel they still have the right to tell a woman how to dress. European lawmakers still ascribe to the outdated, patriarchal mindset which existed as the ruling force over the lives of women before the concept of women’s equality with men gained traction.

The study claims that the 1994 French ministerial circular closely followed by the 2004 outright ban on Hijabs in schools schools “coincided with a significant improvement in the educational attainment of female students of Muslim origin, as well as a rise in mixed marriages“.

This conclusion is in direct opposition to the large body of evidence present in the same study as well as other similarly significant studies, that demonstrates the vastly negative effects on those Muslim schoolgirls who wore the Hijab as an act of free will.   

According to the study, those who were most positively affected by the ban were those who were identified in the “Muslim” group, but the specification used to identify the girls as such was if their father’s nationality at birth was from a “predominantly Muslim country.” 

It is difficult to differentiate, therefore, between those girls who wore the hijab as their own conviction rather than those who had ‘Muslim’ – or Middle Eastern- fathers who may have or may not have enforced it on them. The girls who apparently seem to have benefitted from the ban are of “Muslim origin”: but how is that really identifiable when being Muslim is a personal belief, rather than ethnicity, and at any time, anyone from any part of the world can leave Islam or become a Muslim? Is there a guarantee that all the said ‘Muslim’ fathers were truly Muslim in terms of their way of life and dress just because they were born in a Muslim country, and if they were, their daughters were too? Thus the measure to ascertain the levels of personal belief –which is what being a Muslim is- is inherently flawed in the study. Couple this with the admission that “there are only a handful of veiled students in each of the schools they surveyed , even though they focused on schools with very large immigrant populations.”

Forcing a teenage girl to wear the Hijab can only result in the most logical, realistic conclusion when enforcing anything upon anyone; she will readily remove it when she is able to freely exercise her will, as the study clearly demonstrated with many Muslim schoolgirls.

That principle also applies for those Muslim girls who were forced to remove it, as the study very clearly demonstrates. On speaking about the study Maurin admitted to the Daily Telegraph newspaper that ‘for students who wore the veil, the ban may have had a negative effect on those who were most attached to it, as it may have led them to drop out of school.”

Enforcing anything never yielded long term results. According to Brinbaum et al.(2010) about 25% of Muslims who have attended French schools believe they have suffered discrimination in particular, many feel that they have been prevented from continuing their studies in the type of high school they wanted.”

Thus it is clear that the hastily drawn conclusions drawn from the study seized upon by the media, seems to negate the experiences of the many school girls who had been bullied while wearing the hijab at school, and that rather than the removal of the veil, it was the removal of the cause of the bullying that saw their grades improve.

I know how that feels.

It wasn’t the hijab that caused my social exclusion. Being bullied because I was wearing the hijab did. It was the schoolchildren around me, and my teachers, too immature to know how to accept and embrace someone with a different way of life and belief than theirs.  My experience is echoed by the findings of Navarrete and Maurin, who say that “We cannot exclude the possibility that some veiled students were not treated fairly by their teachers and principals, particularly during the transition from middle school to high school”.

They wrote that “driven by their public opinion, Western countries have implemented policies that are less and less tolerant towards minorities and foreign cultures.”

Being bullied for wearing the hijab is something Muslim girls know all too well.

As a woman who wears the hijab, I can attest to the fact that there is not one physical or mental activity that is hindered by my wearing it. I feel more comfortable in the realisation that  I don’t have to conform to the social standards created by an image-obsessed society that expects a woman to look a certain way at all times.  I have no desire that the way I look becomes the reason I get the job, rather than what I’m capable of in my field of work.  When I wear the hijab, all you can do is focus on my talents.

Is that not what women’s empowerment has been striving to do for generations? To put women on an equal footing with men in terms of their capabilities and contributions to the world? For men to finally look past the outer image and see the intellectual capacity and talent?

And maybe that is the real reason behind why the French government, and so many other  Western governments and people, find issue with the Hijab.  They are made up of mostly men. And it is they who are deprived of their power when a woman decides to put on her hijab. It is the patriarchal mindset of the majority which is hindered with such an action, not the feminist movement. Too many feminists have failed to understand this because they are stuck in the Western status quo.

That is why, as a Muslim woman, the hijab is my ticket to female empowerment. And I do not believe that anyone has the right nor can provide ample justification to take that ticket away from me.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.


Every major sporting tournament is controversial, so why single out Qatar?

The months leading up to the FIFA World Cup have been filled with many accusations and controversies for Qatar, this year’s host country. But when looking at other major sporting events, many of them are controversial too, so why single out Qatar?



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The months leading up to the FIFA World Cup have been filled with many accusations and controversies for Qatar, this year’s host country. But when looking at other major sporting events, many of them are controversial too, so why single out Qatar? Previous hosts of FIFA tournaments, such as the Euros, Copa América or the World Cup have also faced similar criticisms.

Russia, which hosted the 2018 World Cup, like Qatar, has also been condemned for its treatment of people from the LGBT community. The detention of 100 gay men in concentration camp-style prisons in 2017 in the region of Chechnya for example, caused many people to censure and question Russia’s role as host. While LGBT rights do exist in Russia and gay-marriage was allowed until 2020, majority Russian opinion generally appears to be anti-gay rights. A study from 2013 showed that 74% of the Russian population thought that homosexuality shouldn’t be accepted by society and that only 5% favoured same-sex marriage in Russia in 2017.

The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 also caused much uproar. Former US-Senator Daniel Coats responded to the annexation by saying: ‘Since Russia has similarly displayed a brazen disrespect for fundamental principles of FIFA and international law, I hope you will agree that it does not deserve the honour of either hosting the World Cup or participating in one.’ However, despite the allegations, there were very few calls for boycotting the event. 

Brazil, which hosted the World Cup in 2014, also faced accusations. Before the World Cup started, Brazil authorities were already being criticised for using public money for building stadiums for the World Cup. Many of the protests which took place because of this, were met with police brutality. Like Qatar, there were also allegations regarding abuse of workers after 12 workers died during the construction of World Cup stadiums.

Other sporting events have not been without controversy.  The Winter Olympics held earlier this year in Beijing, caused critics to highlight China’s human rights abuses notably the genocide of Uyghur Muslims and the 2019/2020 Hong Kong protests, which resulted in thousands of detentions and prosecutions. Britain along with the US and other countries implemented a diplomatic boycott as a result. Swedish skater Nils van der Poel criticised the host country and said: ‘I think it is extremely irresponsible to give it [the Olympics] to a country that violates human rights as blatantly as the Chinese regime is doing.’ Compared to other sporting events, the 2022 Winter Olympic Games were perhaps the games that were criticised the most.

However, some have pointed out the double standards when certain other countries which also have questionable human rights records, are allowed a free pass. France for instance, has never faced any serious accusations or calls for boycott, even though it has a problematic colonial history in the deaths and exploitation of millions especially in African countries. Even trampling on women’s rights when they imposed the full-face veil ban in public in 2011 was not enough to prevent France hosting the Euros in 2016, with barely a ripple of protest in Western nations..

Meanwhile England with a similar imperialist background, is currently being pulled up by some observers on social media for their alleged hypocrisy regarding their team kit. Costing £115 for fans, England World Cup shirts were reportedly made by Thai workers in sweatshops paying a measly £1 an hour for their work. ‘England football team wearing shirts made by Thai factory workers who are paid £1 an hour. What happened to human rights then? Or migrant rights? Hypocrisy.’ said a Twitter user. Whilst another made the point: “…Didn’t they [England] say they care about workers’ rights? I’m not saying abuse doesn’t happen against migrant workers in the Arab Gulf countries, but let’s not pretend that the West are any better!”

Perhaps it’s because of this selective outrage, that people are calling out those who are critical of Qatar. British commentator Piers Morgan recently tweeted, “Sportswriters venting their morally outraged spleens about the World Cup being held in Qatar – but not a censorious peep about the F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi this weekend. The sports-washing debate is not just hypocritical, it’s laced with inconsistent virtue-signalling.” The United Arab Emirates hosted the final of the 2022 Formula One Championship race, but even though Qatari and Emirati laws are similar, only Qatar has been heavily criticised for its values out of the two. A Twitter user shared similar views and said: ‘Sky Sports News ramping up criticism of Qatar for the treatment of migrant workers and LGBT community but don’t seem so forthright when covering the F1 in Abu Dhabi. Once again picking and choosing their moral outrage.’ Is it possible for media onlookers to focus on the football for the remainder of the Qatar World Cup 2022? 

Despite the criticism and calls for a boycott, the World Cup has been a success in some countries so far.  In the UK alone, 8 million viewers tuned in to the BBC to watch the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador. The audience rating for the third match, England versus Iran, was twice as high with 16 million Brits tuning in to watch the game on Monday.  Fox also reported a 78% increase for the opening match, which was watched by 3.5 million fans, compared to only 1.7 million who watched the 2018 opening game. Already, the Qatar World Cup appears to have defied criticism. Whether that will be sustained or not, only time will tell. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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What to expect from a Muslim country hosting the World Cup

What can we expect from the first Muslim country to host the world’s premier football tournament?



qatar stadium

A Muslim country honoured to be the host of the most prestigious sporting events: the football world cup comes with great criticism. Few hosts have been met with equivalent backlash, but Qatar’s status as a Muslim country from the Near East has supposedly made it an easier target. Qatar’s FIFA World Cup has recently been portrayed to be a backward and conservative experience for the sponsors, players and audiences. But what can you expect from the first Muslim nation to host this prestigious sports tournament?

Qatar has rightfully paid homage to its official religion, Islam, in the opening ceremony by featuring verses from its Holy Book: The Quran. The mesmerising recitation can be remembered as one of the most unique openings of a FIFA World Cup, presented from Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium. For most football fans this is a first-time experience, and many found it beautiful to their ears. The verses were selected to encompass harmony and unity, extending a warm welcome to the nation. Al Bayt’s unique design is yet another breathtaking example of Qatari nomadic culture, designed like a tent to represent the traditional homes of the people.

Qatar has given special attention to presenting its nomadic lifestyle and culture to newcomers, as all hosts do. Murals and posters, containing sayings of their leader, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have been found at several locations in a courageous attempt to combat Islamophobia and highlight the true nature of the religion. The country’s Islamic philosophy underpins its media, billboards, structure and overall lifestyle. It has taken this opportunity to give tourists a glimpse of the nation’s rich history and used creative QR Codes to achieve this. The well designed “Explore our Civilisation” presents the riveting history of the country and its culture through the perspective of natives.

Hotels in its capital, Doha, have also installed barcodes to teach guests about Islam in different languages. Written on it is a slogan of the Abdullah bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Centre. The centre is affiliated with the Qatari Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. The barcodes are a part of its initiative to provide multilingual Islamic materials.

Tourists have also been introduced to the traditional ‘Call to Prayer’, a recitation that can be heard throughout the country five times a day. This call, also known as ‘Adhan’ signifies to Muslim residents that it is time for prayer. The recitation was found to be enthralling by many listeners and is another example of the country’s culture.

As expected, visitors are expected to dress modestly, public affection and intimacy is frowned upon and can be a punishable offence. For many these restrictions appear shocking however this is the norm for Qatari people. In addition, Qatar has strict laws to protect the privacy of their country and people. Hence, photography is forbidden in many areas. Content that may use material that slanders or is culturally insensitive is unacceptable. Swearing and behaving obscenely is viewed as a great disrespect and can lead to imprisonment or deportation.

In doing this, Qatar offers an insightful experience into its unique, albeit conservative culture, a huge contrast to previous World Cup hosts. It seeks to alleviate the misconceptions about Islam held by many people through the medium of sport and encourage harmony.

And so, we can expect a world cup experience that deviates from traditional FIFA host nations by allowing it to be more regulated and controlled in terms of the content and the material it promotes. The Qatari’s maintain that alcohol consumption is limited to consider the comfort of residents and lower the damages caused by drunkards. Most citizens of the country are not accustomed to public drunkenness and normally such behaviour incurs heavy charges. Like all countries, Qatar expects tourists to accept the laws of their land and set aside their personal beliefs for the next month. By doing this, they are simply asking for tolerance and inclusion from travellers, but perhaps that is too much to ask?

At a glance, the alcohol ban, coming a few days ahead of the world cup seems like a cunning move by the hosts. It may be a shrewd experience for some, but a relief for others. Studies have revealed that in England, for example, increased drinking at high-stake sporting events like FIFA is directly linked to domestic violence. Domestic partner violence saw a staggering increase of 38% in 2014 when England lost a football game. An alarming statistic that is ignored by most nations because it interferes with the social and cultural obligations of the sporting event. Hence, whilst Qatar’s ban is likely rooted in religious concern, it heralds many positive benefits for society.

Regardless of the concerns raised in the days leading up to the World Cup, Qatar has held its ground. It welcomes the world to a land filled with lavish Mosques, fascinating food and music to accompany the football journey. With so much at stake, the show must go on…

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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How fair is the criticism of Qatar’s LGBT laws?

Qatar has come under a barrage of criticism for its anti-LGBT laws, but it’s not as bad as you might think.



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This year’s world cup is the first to be held in the Middle East. Instead of excitement for the upcoming event, which is starting this weekend, there have been many discussions and controversies regarding human rights in Qatar. The gulf nation has been receiving a lot of criticism regarding the country’s morals, due to its treatment of migrant workers and its LGBT laws.

England captain Harry Kane is adamant he will wear the LGBT armband but French captain Hugo Lloris says there “there is too much pressure” on players to protest, and instead, they should focus on the football.  Similarly, Australia’s squad called on Qatar to decriminalize same-sex relationships.

It seems no one is happy with the tournament taking place in Qatar. But how fair are the criticisms of its LGBT laws?

LGBT laws in Qatar

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Homosexuality is punishable for up to seven years in the gulf state and sexual activity between the same gender is punishable by the death penalty. These punishments are rarely carried out, however, and sex outside of marriage, whatever the gender, is illegal.

Even though records of imprisonment or the death penalty due to same-sex relationships, are scarce, 11 cases in three years were reported by Human Rights Watch.

These cases included searching of phones, beatings and sexual harassment by officials. HRW reported that the convicted transgendered women had to take part in mandatory conversion therapy to be released.

Public displays of affection are prohibited in Qatar, but that goes for both homosexual and heterosexual couples, which is the same in other Arab states.

LGBT and morally controversial laws around the world

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Qatar’s fellow gulf country, the United Arab Emirates, has similar policies. Being in a same-sex relationship in the UAE can get you 14 years imprisonment, whereas a ‘male disguising as a female’, can get a year-long penalty as well as a fine. However, compared to Qatar, the UAE has barely received any criticism for their policies.

On the contrary, Dubai, the UAE’s largest city, is even called ‘The City of the Future’, indicating that the country’s policies are either unknown or ignored. Saudi Arabia, a long-standing ally of the west, has the exact same laws, yet it remains a major trading partner of the United States.  Trade between the UK and Saudi Arabia was worth £13 billion in 2022.

Apart from Muslim countries, other nations, such as Ethiopia and Eritrea, both of which are Christian nations, also criminalise same-sex conduct.

There is a different attitude towards other morally ‘incorrect’ policies from other countries.  For example, the Netherlands, Belgium and France allow incest, and marriage between cousins, which for some is seen to be morally wrong. Regardless of this policy, which has not been changed in recent years, the Netherlands and Belgium still hosted the FIFA Euro Cup in 2000, whereas France has hosted both the world cup and the Euros five times in total.

Thailand, whose capital was named thesecond most gay-friendly city in Asia in 2018, is another country that allows incest and has barely ever faced any controversy over this policy either. Same-sex marriage was only decriminalised in June 2022. Rather, Thai society has been complimented as one of the LGBT friendliest countries in the world, especially because of their 2020 elections  candidate, Pauline Ngarmpring, who is Thailand’s first trans politician.

Who then, becomes the arbiter of what is morally right and wrong?

Reactions to the criticism

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The CEO of the Qatar World Cup, ​​Nasser al-Khater vociferously defended the country’s policies, saying that Qatar was a “hospitable and tolerant society”.

“Any fan of any gender, orientation, religion, race should rest assured that Qatar is one of the most safe countries in the  world — and they’ll all be welcome here.”

Asked by a Sky Sports reporter if a married gay couple would be allowed to check in to a hotel, Nasser al-Khater replied: “Can you check in to a hotel with a friend?”

He emphasised that Qatar is a conservative and modest country, just like other countries in the region, and fans should respect its culture.

“Public display of affection is frowned upon, that’s simply it.”

French captain Hugo Lloris said: “When we are in France, when we welcome foreigners, we often want them to follow our rules, to respect our culture, and I will do the same when I go to Qatar, quite simply.  I can agree or disagree with their ideas, but I have to show respect.

He added that “there’s too much pressure on the players” to get involved in political protests just days before the biggest tournament of their lives.

“If you have to apply pressure, first of all it had to be 10 years ago. Now it’s too late. You have to understand that for players this opportunity happens every four years and you want every chance to succeed. The focus has to be on the field. The rest is for politicians. We are athletes.”

Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp also made similar remarks: “I don’t like that we expect [players] now to do something. They go there to play football.

“The decision [to hold the World Cup in Qatar] was made by other people, and if you want to criticise anybody, criticise the people who  made the decision.”

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James Cleverly, Britain’s Secretary for Foreign Affairs, said in an interview: “One of the things I would say for football fans is, please do be respectful of the host nation. They are trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football. 

“They [Qatari authorities] want to make sure that football fans are safe, secure and enjoy themselves. And they know that that means they are going to have to make some compromises in terms of what is an Islamic country with a  different set of cultural norms to our own,” he added.

Cleverly’s statement was met with great criticism by many people. “Whatever you do, don’t do anything gay. Is that the message?” Gary Lineker, former England footballer said.

FIFA’s Media Relations Director Brian Swanson, himself a gay man, defended the organisation and told journalists that Qatar has given “assurances that everybody is welcome and I believe that everybody will be welcome in this world cup”.

FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, and Secretary General, Fatma Samoura, wrote a letter to all 32 participating countries.

They urged the participating countries to ‘not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists’ and to ‘now focus on the football.’

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Does hate speech have a place in a tolerant society?

Danish Lawyer, Jacob Mchangama’s views on whether a ban on hate speech can ever be sustainable.



hate crime

Free speech. To limit or not to limit; that is the question.

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has raised concerns over his plans for the social media platform. A “free speech absolutist” as he describes himself, he says he is “against censorship that goes far beyond the law”. Reducing moderation could pave the way for hate speech and extremist ideas to spread, some fear, but Musk has pledged to form a ‘moderation council’ as the EU warns him that the platform must abide by its moderation rules. Hate speech did indeed increase in the hours and days after Musk acquired Twitter.

Sir Salman Rushdie, the Indian-British author who was stabbed at a public lecture in New York in August, was also at the centre of a debate on how far free speech can go before it becomes unacceptable.

He was stabbed ten times by twenty-four-year-old Hadi Matar, who claims he read “two pages” of Rushdie’s book: ‘Satanic Verses.’ The book, published in 1988, brought him a blasphemy charge by the then-Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, who promised a $3 million bounty for his death. Thirty-four years on, the alleged motive of his attacker was Rushdie’s historical blasphemy towards the Prophet Muhammad.

But these events raise a key question: What is the right way to deal with hate speech? It certainly isn’t with violence. But where is the line between free speech and the protection of people’s sentiments and beliefs? There are already laws against hate speech but who determines what is hate, and what isn’t?

We spoke to Jacob Mchangama, a Danish lawyer and global free speech expert.

“As a society, we’d have to develop tolerance around speech that we feel goes against our own beliefs”

Jacob Mchangama

Jacob is the founder and director of Justitia, a think tank based in Copenhagen focusing on human rights and freedom of speech. He believes primarily in the importance of unfettered free speech. At one point, he writes in his book: ‘Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media’, “Lost in the incessant focus on the darker sides of free speech—real, perceived, and exaggerated—are the profound benefits of free and open discourse… we jeopardize those benefits if we are unwilling to accept any of the harms or costs that inevitably accompany free expression.”

Jacob’s view is that part of free speech is allowing mockery and criticism. And as a society, we’d have to develop tolerance around speech that we feel goes against our own beliefs.

“What does ensure social peace is a culture of free speech,” Jacob tells us.

“A culture of tolerance and of acceptance, that in a diverse society everyone has the right to speak out their mind, even if that offends you.”

In terms of the violence that Rushdie was met with as a result of his book, Jacob says that the sole responsibility is always on the person “who responds to pens with swords or AK47s.”

Instead, he advocates for the use of unfettered free speech as a way to mitigate violent responses. “The more people are accustomed to different ideas, the more likely they are to react to ideas they find offensive or loathsome with a shrug of the shoulders, or to use criticism rather than using violence.”

One of the greatest arguments against unfettered free speech is that it is usually to the detriment of minority groups, who have to hear harmful rhetoric spewed about them that continues to isolate them from society. To this point, Jacob believes that since limitations of free speech are often decided by the powerful majority, no matter how well-intentioned they are, they backfire on minorities. He believes minorities especially rely on free speech.

“Historically, minorities have always been subject to persecution and censorship and have had to rely on free speech on their ability to speak out, to organize protests and to convince their co-citizens that they deserve equal protection.”

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical magazine that went viral after publishing depictions of the Prophet Muhammad of Islam, considered offensive by the Muslim community worldwide. They republished the cartoons in 2020.

In relation to that, Jacob explains: “In the West, in Denmark for instance, we have adopted some laws that attack the religious speech of Muslims and that shows maybe it wasn’t wise for Muslims to call for limits on free speech during the cartoon affair because when you are a minority and call for limits on free speech, then the majority can adopt their own standards.”

In essence, free speech is a double-edged sword, he proclaims.

So where do we draw the line? How do we strike the balance between protecting people and speech at the same time?

There is no universal definition of hate speech in international law, and perhaps that is one of the reasons it is so hard to impose a ban on. However, the United Nations describes it as, “offensive discourse targeting a group or an individual based on inherent characteristics and that may threaten social peace.”

Jacob implies that hate speech is subjective: “When you get into hate speech ban, it becomes very difficult to define because different people have different ideas. Some Muslim states argue that criticism of Islam is akin to hate speech, and some Jewish organisations say that if you criticise Israel that is akin to anti-Semitism, and I don’t agree with either of those interpretations.”

“I think you should have the right to criticise Israel’s behaviour to Palestinians the same way you should have the right to criticise Islam. In general, at least in mature democracies, there seems to be a correlation at the very least between free speech and social peace, rather than the other way round. The more people who are accustomed to different ideas, the more likely they are to react to ideas they find offensive or loathsome with a shrug of the shoulders or to use criticism rather than using violence and in that sense I think free speech is the antithesis of violence and absolutely necessary to establish social peace in diverse societies.”

He adds later on: “I don’t think you can say that criticism of free speech is fine as long as you don’t offend because offence is subjective. And the more zealously you believe yourself and your doctrines to be the truth, the more likely you are to find offence everywhere. And also I think criticism and mockery of institutions that are powerful is a healthy thing; it’s a non-violent way to shine a critical light on authority and hypocrisy and very often, power leads to corruption and supposedly pious people who hold high office use that for their own gains.”

Whether it aligns with a person’s morals or not, all speech is fair speech, he says. There is no curtailing of hate speech, instead, Jacob says, “Once there’s clear incitement to violence, that’s where you overstep the line of free speech. Sometimes it can be difficult to decide when incitement is true incitement and when it is mere ‘hate speech.’ It’s not always easy, but that would be my guiding principle.”

He adds: “Civil society can create strong antidotes against hatred and intolerance exactly by exercising free speech, so this is one of the main reasons I think free is such a powerful principle and is empowering.”

But is it really possible for us to create antidotes against hatred, by giving free speech the reign to go so far as hate speech? Certainly, there are more effective ways — such as respect, understanding and empathy — to create a society in which we are tolerant of one another.

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, while upholding the right to free speech, recognises that freedom of expression comes with some risks, and so it has this provision:

“The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”

Article 10, European Convention on human rights

Poking fun at another person’s belief in the name of ‘free speech’ and ‘open dialogue’ cannot be acceptable. There are other, more appropriate ways to raise criticisms and questions about another person’s way of living that can still lead to candid dialogue.

Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the Prophet Muhammad of Islam has been in the spotlight of the free speech discussion since 2005, when the cartoons were first published. The depiction made a mockery of a figure that Muslims deeply respect and love. The illustrations published by the magazine exercised their right to free speech and a free press, but it became the root of widespread violence and bloodshed both by Muslims and against them.

The National Observatory noted that in 2020, there was a 53% increase in anti-Muslim-related attacks in France. Figures of hate crimes against Muslims rose by roughly 150% from 2019 to 2020.

Jacob says that in the face of such hatred, it is important to remember, “The mirror image of free speech is that you have that right as well.”

Some Muslims condemned the cartoons and explained why their sentiments were hurt. However, when the images were republished in 2020, it only cemented the notion that unfettered free speech cannot create dialogue. France continued to see a rise in hate crimes against Muslims. In response, it only provoked further extremism, namely the stabbing of French teacher Samuel Patty, who was attacked for displaying a similar image in a class about freedom of expression. Hate always begets hate.

“There was a protest by Muslims after Charlie Hebdo and there had been some previous demonstrations where radicals stood with placards and said ‘behead those who insult Islam’ and instead they had those laugh at those who insult Islam. They are very silly people,” he says.

Although Jacob advocates for no limits on what you can say about religion or things people hold sacred, however distasteful the rhetoric, he admits that highly protected free speech is no excuse for hatred towards religious minorities.

“I would draw the limits at making threats or inciting violence against Muslims. I would morally condemn hate speech against Muslims even if it doesn’t reach the threshold of incitement to violence.”

When we scale the situation down, one could argue: who would want a dialogue with someone who’s offended them? Or who mocks, ridicules and denigrates things they hold dear or sacred? Instead, we’ve created a society in which we accept animosity to flourish. A peaceful society requires peaceful and healthy dialogue and respect towards all people. And with unfettered, unregulated free speech, we always get abuse of free speech.

And yet if we are not curtailing hate speech, do we ultimately end up embracing it?

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

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OPINION: Rishi Sunak is a win for diversity but not for minorities

Is Rishi Sunak’s rapid rise to power really a reflection of how far we’ve come as a diverse and inclusive nation?



rishi sunak

Rishi Sunak has become the first person of Asian heritage to become the British prime minister, and while this milestone was rightly celebrated by many across the political spectrum around the world, is his rapid rise to power really a reflection of how far we’ve come as a diverse and inclusive nation?

Sunak was only brought in because the Conservatives had exhausted all other options following the implosion of Liz Truss’ government. Data suggests that only 20% of ‘BAME’ Britons voted for the Conservatives at the last general election, whilst 64% voted for Labour. So purely on a political level, Sunak cannot effectively represent the majority of ethnic minority voters as a Conservative. After all, the Prime Minister’s voting record on issues which deeply affect minorities has hardly been in favour of things they deeply care about. Mr Sunak voted against investigations into the Iraq War and for more foreign military interventions. Likewise, he has previously voted for stricter immigration controls and asylum rules.

These policy positions demonstrate that the new Prime Minister does not have the answers to the problems facing Britain’s ethnic minority communities. One of the most significant problems facing these groups is a lack of economic opportunity which enhances the inequality between minority groups and the rest of society. For instance, one report by the IFS suggests that despite outperforming academically, many minority groups are still not finding ‘equivalent labour market success’. Similarly, a parliamentary report in 2020 argued that ‘People from Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups are around twice as likely to be in the bottom fifth of incomes than average, and have the lowest median household incomes, closely followed by people from a Black ethnic group.’ It also highlighted severe employment gaps, within some of the South Asian community, such as Pakistanis and Bengalis.

In terms of such economic problems, what is the extent to which the Prime Minister will effectively improve economic outcomes for ethnic minorities? Mr Sunak’s economic background isn’t one which would normally resonate with the average joe. For instance, one MP pointed out that his wealth was double that of King Charles III. Indeed, having come from a privileged background, some suggest that Mr Sunak cannot effectively understand, and therefore tackle the aforementioned economic injustices. However, even more importantly, Mr Sunak’s policies are insufficient in tackling the economic and social problems faced by ethnic minorities. In his first speech outside Number 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister hinted that ‘difficult decisions’ were to come. Some have interpreted such signals as a return to a more austerity-based economic policy. This would undoubtedly hurt the chances of redressing economic and social inequalities facing minorities in the UK, especially first-generation immigrants in relatively low paid jobs. Moreover, there are no particular policies Mr Sunak has pointed to which could help boost employment among minority communities which have been left behind.

Another even more important issue is the social discourse which Mr Sunak’s Conservative Party represents. Having reappointed Suella Braverman as Home Secretary who recently indicated that it would be her ‘dream’ to see refugees sent to Rwanda – in a plan that was blocked through legal action – the government seems to continue to follow previous governments in promoting discourse which sees refugees and immigrants – who are primarily of minority communities – as unwanted. Indeed, it is ironic that two BAME Home secretaries – Priti Patel and Braverman – have been primarily responsible for a policy that is so hostile to the most helpless category of migrants. Such discourses do have material effects. In fact, data suggests that hate crimes are at an all-time high in the UK. If this underlying reality doesn’t change, then the person at the top is irrelevant, regardless of the colour of their skin.

Although seeing the UK’s first Asian Prime Minister is a milestone that ought to be celebrated, the underlying reality is that life for British minorities will not substantially change unless there is a concerted effort to change government policy. In many respects, Mr Sunak represents a continuation of Mr Johnson and Mrs Truss, and has not signalled any deviations from the 2019 Conservative manifesto. This extends both to economic policy, in making sure that economic inequalities in terms of employment and income are reduced, as well as social policy, through preventing discourses which have been harmful to British minorities and people of colour.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Is Andrew Tate misunderstood? 

Talk TV’s Piers Morgan recently interviewed Andrew Tate but was he able to defend his views?



Andrew Tate

Over the summer, Andrew Tate’s online presence and subsequent removal became the internet’s topic of discussion because of the controversial things he had said about women, rape, masculinity and achieving success, to name a few. 

Since being banned from platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook, there has been an outcry from Tate and his supporters, arguing against  ‘cancel culture’, on the basis that many of his viral clips were in fact taken out of context to misrepresent his messages. 

Tate recently sat down for an interview with Piers Morgan to discuss internet climate, virality, and how ‘soundbites’ of his videos and podcasts have been circulated and used without context to present him and his views as far more extreme than they perhaps are. 

Introducing him as the “most famous man you’ve probably never heard of”, Morgan highlights that Tate’s audience is primarily young men, and given that the internet is so accessible, the risk of misinformation is incredibly high, especially to younger and vulnerable audiences who digest information without much thought to its validity or legitimacy. Thus, the two debate and eventually agree on the fact that it is perhaps Tate’s poor choice, or as Morgan argues, misunderstanding of words, that conveys far harsher messages than Tate perhaps means. Tate also admits if he had the opportunity to say things again, with the knowledge of the fame he would experience, he’d ‘say them differently perhaps.’   

For example, Tate elaborates that his clip saying that women are handed by father to husband as “property” during a marriage ceremony, should actually be understood as simply relaying traditional male roles from Christianity or Islam, which is nothing new. Additionally, addressing his understanding of “authority” Tate posits that in a marriage contract, a man is expected to protect his wife, giving him the “authority” to do have a say in her choices. Morgan argued that this suggests that a woman would therefore have no autonomy, to which Tate disagrees, saying that this does not mean a woman is not able to still make her own choices.

Morgan then questions Tate’s views that clinical depression is not a real mental illness, with Tate confirming he still believes that with a positive mindset, going to the gym and getting a ‘six-pack’, any feelings of lowness can be combatted. Tate then points out the injustice of his views being criticised when there is worse, suggestive and more dangerous content on the internet, citing the negative influence of Lil Nas X’s music video ‘Call me by Your Name’ in which he sexually dances on a Satan figure, or rap music that promotes knife crime.

The crux of this interview is about taking accountability. And, Tate’s opinions on women, mental health and success do not change. He understands that it is very easy for his words to be misconstrued and interpreted incorrectly by audiences who don’t always get the full context, but only to an extent. It still stands that Tate’s view on many topics is misguided and dangerous. Because even if his opinions are elaborated on, the small clips of his volatile speeches and opinions still reach vulnerable minds, and therefore, the satisfaction in simply acknowledging that fact, is not enough. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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