Monday, August 8, 2022

Ali Zafar urges govt to make online hate speech a punishable offence

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Ali Zafar wants the Pakistani government to follow in the footsteps of the Canadian government and implement laws that criminalise online hate speech.

The singer cum actor took to Twitter to laud the Canadian govt’s move to treat online hate speech as a punishable offence – according to the proposed amendments, a person could be fined up to C$20,000 ($16,250) if found guilty of hate speech that personally identified a victim.

The move, which came weeks after a 20-year-old rammed a truck into a Muslim family in Ontario killing four members, was widely hailed on social media, with Ali Zafar also sharing an article about it.

“Exactly what was needed. Same should be implemented here,” he said, before quoting Canada’s Attorney General David Lametti’s statement: “Hate speech directly contradicts the values underlying freedom of expression and our Charter of Rights,” Lametti said. “It threatens the safety and well-being of its targets. It silences and intimidates, especially when the target is a vulnerable person or community.”

Zafar’s call comes years-deep into his own grappling with a defamation lawsuit against singer Meesha Shafi, who accused him of sexual harassment at the height of the global #MeToo movement.

In September, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cybercrime Wing booked  Shafi, model Iffat Omar and seven others under section 20 (1) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and R/W 109-PPC on the accusations of running a social media campaign against Ali Zafar.

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