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Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Ethiopians React to Passing of Controversial ‘Hate Speech’ Law

Many are concerned that the new law is the government's attempt to suppress freedom of speech instead.

Yesterday, the Ethiopian government passed a law which will punish what it deems to be "hate speech" and "disinformation" with large fines and serious jail time, according to Aljazeera. The new law comes just before elections are set to take place this year in Ethiopia.

At least 300 members of parliament voted in favor of the new law which several civil rights groups have warned will undermine free speech in the East African country.


News24 reports that the newly passed law has described hate speech as "any discourse that incites prejudice against individuals and groups based on nationality, ethnic and religious affiliation, sex or disabilities". The penalties for disseminating hate speech include fines of up to USD 3100 and 2-year prison terms. However, in the event that hate speech or "disinformation" results in "an attack on individuals or groups", the jail term can be extended up to 5 years.

One legislator, Abebe Godebo, said that, "Ethiopia has become a victim of disinformation." Godebo adds that, "The country is a land of diversity and this bill will help to balance those diversities."

However, not everyone is convinced that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government has the right intentions.

Speaking to the Anadolu Agency, executive director of the Addis Ababa-based Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy, Befeqadu Hailu, said that, "The government has had other options to target hate speech and fake news. After all, it is the lack of access to government information that makes fake news surface. Hailu also added that, "Now that it has been passed, authorities should not be abusing it."

Back in 2018, the Human Rights Watch cautioned against the new law when it was first announced during the drafting stage. The organization instead suggested that the Ethiopian government consider an alternative strategy to curb hate speech and emphasized that it should be a strategy that "even a carefully drawn hate speech law should only be one small part of".

Ethiopians who also feel that their freedom of speech will now be under attack have decried the new law on social media. Take a look at some of their responses below.





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Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Passes Away

The former Egyptian president, who was ousted in 2011 during the Arab Spring Uprising, was aged 91.

Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak passed away yesterday according to reports by the BBC.

The former statesman's death comes barely a year after his successor and Egypt's first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi, suffered a fatal heart attack.

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Photo by Issue Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images

Togolese President Wins Re-election to Secure Fourth Term in Office

President Faure Gnassingbé prepares for a fourth term in office following an election wrought with fraud allegations.

Togo's electoral commission has just released the preliminary results of the first round of the presidential election.

President Faure Gnassingbé reportedly secured 72 percent of the vote while his main opposition and former Prime Minister Agbeyome Kodjo who straddled behind with just 18 percent of the vote, according to Aljazeera.

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"Zion 9, 2018" (inkjet on Hahnemuhle photo rag)" by Mohau Modisakeng. Photo courtesy of Jenkins Johnson Gallery.

South African Artist Mohau Modisakeng Makes Solo NYC Debut With 'A Promised Land'

The artist will present the video installation 'ZION' and other works centering on the "global history of displacement of Black communities" at the Jenkins Johnson Gallery in Brooklyn.

Renowned South African visual artist Mohau Modisakeng presents A Promised Land, his latest solo exhibition, opening at Brooklyn's Jenkins Johnson Gallery this month. This marks the New York debut of Modisakeng's ZION video installation, based on the artists's 2017 performance art series by the same name. It originally debuted at the Performa Biennial.

"In ZION the artist deals with the relationship between body, place and the global history of displacement of Black communities," reads a press release. "There is an idea that all people are meant to belong somewhere, yet in reality there are millions of people who are unsettled, in search of refuge, migrating across borders and landscapes for various reasons."

In addition to the video, the show also features seven large-scale photographs that communicate themes of Black displacement. From 19th century Black settlements in New York City, which as the press release notes, were eradicated to clear space for the development of Central Park, to the scores of Africans who have faced conflict that has led them to life as refugees in foreign lands.

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Rema in "Beamer (Bad Boys)" (Youtube)

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Tony Allen x Hugh Masekela, Sarkodie, Rema, Costa Titch x Riky Rick x AKA and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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