Bulgarian media slammed over xenophobia, hate speech in covering refugee issue

Sections of Bulgaria’s electronic and print media have come in for sharp criticism for conveying hate speech during coverage of the refugee issue.

The Council for Electronic Media (CEM), the body empowered by statute to regulate the broadcast media, said that it would take “all necessary measures” against media that conveyed hate speech.

In a statement after monitoring electronic media coverage of the refugee issue, CEM said on November 6 that freedom of speech does not include the expression of racist beliefs or statements that incite hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.

Some instances of hostile speech and usage of morally unacceptable remarks, such as “cannibals”, “scum” and “low-life primates” stand out, CEM said.

The council did not name specific media, but earlier there were complaints about a programme hosted on the Alfa Ataka channel by ultra-nationalist Ataka MP Magdalena Tasheva. The “In the Eye of the Storm” programme has been the subject of complaints by Syrian refugees in Bulgaria.

Some reference was made to this syndrome by the council, which noted that politicians hosted programmes in some media. This fact formed a “special conflict of interest,” CEM said.

The Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria (AEJ) expressed “serious concern” in a statement on November 6 about media coverage of growing tensions between Bulgarian and foreign nationals coming from countries in the Middle East.

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(Photo: Brano Hudak/sxc.hu)