Hate Speech Towards Syrian Refugees in Turkish Online Reader Comments

Hate Speech Towards Syrian Refugees in Turkish Online Reader Comments

Nurhan Kavaklı (Uskudar University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2817-3.ch007
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The aim of this study is to examine the hate speech in the reader comments towards Syrian refugee s in Turkey. Within the framework of this purpose, the reader comments made on the news about the violence towards a Syrian child, which took place on the web page of national newspaper Hürriyet, are analysed. It is hoped that, this study will help reveal the concerns or motives which lie behind the negative point of views and opinions towards Syrian refugees. Thus, it may make a contribution to determining the counter-strategies against the intolerance and hostility towards the refugees.
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From the beginning of the civil war in Syria, Turkey draws attention as a country to which Syrians escape to from war by either taking refuge in or using as a bridge on their way to Europe. A majority of the Syrian refugees, whose population is more than 2.5 million (UNHRC, 2016), are living in difficult conditions inside or outside refugee camps. Among the many difficulties that the refugees face are being a target group for intolerance, hostility and hate speech. New media allows the users to participate in media content and therefore, contributes to the democratization of social communication. This is also one of the places where Syrian Refugees could be a target group for hate speech.

The benefits of new media technologies and forms contrast traditional media. Such as being digital, interactive, hypersexual, visual, easily shared, and having a multimedia form. These could also pave a new way for production, dissemination and accession of hate speech. Alongside the different new media applications that let the user-derived contents (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.) get into circulation, there are also practises in which the online newspapers give place to reader comments. Owing to the reader comments, the passive position of the readers in traditional journalism that only allow the readers consume news content, has turned into an active one. News readers, herein after, have the chance to transfer their own point of views and opinions of the subject of the news to a public sphere more easily. This situation is positive in terms of building up democratic participation. However, on the other hand, as already mentioned above, it could be a new communication platform where all kinds of hate speech can either be produced or popularized. In other words, the reader comments could degrade into a vehicle for hate speech when readers post malicious comments and direct hatred toward a particular group in the society.

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