It is true that freedom of expression is one of the essential foundations of a society, particularly a democratic society. This freedom is also one of the basic conditions for the progress and development of every man. However, freedom of expression should not be used to incite the people into ethnic, racial and religious hatred through the use of mass media.
In this regard, it is relevant here to refer to the Council of Europe, which defines hate speech. According to this council, hate speech covers all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin.
As hate speech poses a dramatic threat to stability and peace of a society, no hate speech movements are being launched in some countries as an effective measure to promote awareness of the danger of hate speech. As in all cases, education is the initial stage to be followed by legal action. This being so, countries have come to promulgate laws that restrict hate speech. Myanmar follows suit by drafting the interfaith law to ensure peaceful co-existence of different races and religious faiths. In Myanmar there are four main religious faiths: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, in addition to spiritual worshipping. As there are conflicts of belief and as there are certain sections of extremists, it is necessary to prevent behaviour, speech and writing that are aimed at or that can lead to hatred, hostility and disunity between and among the people of different races and religions. It is always a good thing if people can harbour love, sympathy and respect of each other in interaction between and among the people of different faiths.
The Global New Light of Myanmar welcomes the interfaith law, which is believed to foster good-will and unity among all people as well as to ensure stability, peace and co-existence of people professing different faiths.