In order to fight racism and hatred, countries like Austria have banned all Nazi symbols and have gone as far as banning Nazi codes like 88, 1919, 18 and AH on license plates.
Nazism is the worst form of discrimination against anyone who does not belong to the White Aryan race. Its followers are currently active under the excuse of confronting refugees and Muslims, and fighting terrorism. Austria has also outlawed the use of IS and ISIS on personalized number plates. These policies are adopted by governments which have learnt lessons from the recent past and are attempting to prevent racial incitement.
Hate speech broadcast by TV stations under the excuse it's coming from political candidates only serves extremists everywhere.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Some politicians are however willing to do anything, even if it involves moral decline, to garner votes. They'd thus insult their society's values by making insinuations against others' religions or race. In order to make political gains, they are currently inciting against Muslims. Tomorrow, they'd incite against black people, then against the Jews, then against the Chinese and so on. This incitement will trigger opposing hateful speech, as ugly racism knows no limits.
Trump, Le Pen
As the presidential race begins, two models of opportunist politicians seem to occupy the scene in two countries: Donald Trump in the U.S. and Marine Le Pen in France. They're both increasing pressure on society and their damage is far worse than what is perceived. Those who think Muslims are the only ones to be harmed by racial incitement are in fact wrong, as the harm done is more general than that. Groups based on prejudice and hatred, like ISIS, thrive on speeches made by racist figures like Trump and Le Pen. We nowadays live in an intertwined planet, where we watch the same videos and news, see the same photos and read the same comments whether they're made in New York or in Raqqa!
Before making his controversial call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., Trump had begun his presidential campaign by making anti-Latino remarks. At the beginning, many people considered him a silly candidate and did not take him seriously. Some described him as a temporary candidate and thought his humor and haircut spices up the presidential campaigns.
I was in Florida last summer when he launched his campaign against Latinos. His remarks sparked anger in this state which is packed with immigrants and with citizens originally from Latin American countries. Trump later on tried to amend his rhetoric and in the end, he stopped criticizing them; however, he left an open wound. Few days ago, his presidential rival Hillary Clinton condemned his statements and said "he's no longer funny." Trump has become a phenomenon and he continues to lead among Republicans in presidential polls.
Trump may not be racist, as he claims, but his concern is to win people's votes regardless of the means and the result, and this is worse than being racist. He may not seek to fulfill the promises he made if he becomes president: he can't actually discriminate against American Muslims, monitor them, or ban them from travelling by air under the excuse of fighting terrorism. Even if he retracts his appalling statements, he's unfortunately popularizing a hate speech that incites clashes and which people will continue to remember for decades.
Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen is walking in her father's footsteps, Jean-Marie Le Pen, one of the most famous figures to call for racial discrimination in France. However, despite all his statements and incitement, he lost presidential elections five times as the majority of the French people refused to elect him. We hope the French people continue to reject racists despite the increase of French extremists calling for hate and despite the escalation of terror operations via people aligned with Islam. However, our confidence is that the French regime and the morals of the French people will not allow Marine Le Pen to spread this hate, and the people will thus reject her just like they did with Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Serving extremists everywhere
As for the U.S., we know that Trump cannot fulfill most of his promises if he becomes president, as many of his promises are unconstitutional; the Constitution is above the word of any official, even the U.S. president himself. The American Constitution is what protects all citizens and clearly prohibits discrimination, and it's the final legal reference for the Supreme Court.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks and their repercussions, American Muslims won most complaints they filed against individuals, companies and governmental institutions that discriminated against them and violated their rights as citizens.
However, despite our confidence in American justice, we see that the hate speech - broadcast by television stations under the excuse that it's coming from political candidates - only serves extremists everywhere. And it is actually Muslims who are harmed most by terror attacks like those of ISIS, an organization that uses what's happening in the West to justify its crimes.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Dec. 13, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.