Hate speech: how language constructs identity and fuels oppression

An open discussion on the Arabic language and its relation to how society views and interacts with queerness - both in the form of hate speech and in the form of affirming inclusivity.

conversation, FAME festival
SA 23.09.2023 16:00

Language as a double-edged sword is the conference on hate speech, language and identity. It aims to discuss this nuanced subject and bring to light the complications that stem from using language as an ideological tool.

Arabic, perhaps more than many languages, is a clear example of how language can easily become a way to oppress and ostracize sexual and gender diverse minorities. Many queer activists working in the MENA region were able to recognize this : 
- Hate speech online and in real life is prevalent
- Terms to describe queerness (often in a derogatory manner) are constantly being created to fit with the rapid visibility queer people are gaining in the region

The conference aims to combat hate speech by naming the many attempts that were made around the region as well as to create a more inclusive and affirming queer terminology.
More precisely, we will share on the history of queerness in the Arabic language ; question the perpetuation of hate speech and queerphobia in the modern Arabic vocabulary (especially in North African dialects and standard Arabic) ; and pay attention on the attempts made by queer people in the region to reflect on and deconstruct that.


in English & Arabic

content advision: discriminating language, mentions of violence

Meriem is an Algerian activist based in Brussels. Involved in feminist and LGBTQI+ movement in Algeria since 2017, with a focus on translating and documenting the violations against LGBTQI+ people in Algeria. Meriem has worked with many regional and international NGOs throughout the years, and she believes in the role language has both in the liberation of queer identities and the oppression forced upon them.

Special thanks to Helem Lebanon (the organization in charge of creating the Arabic Hate Speech Lexicon).



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