Is an insult the same as hate speech?

“…I have seen my friend Francis ole Kaparo… I’m telling my brother Francis Ole Kaparo not to fall into Jubilee’s trap and threaten social media… I, Kalonzo, if somebody calls me a dog, am I a dog? But for Kaparo that’s hate speech… In politics, at a time like this, when you are dealing with high emotions, on the very important matter of electing the top leadership of this country. Please do not threaten Kenyans that they are doing hate speech, you’ll switch off the internet, you'll do wonders, and you’ll close groups… The NCIC cannot play with free media…”

Nasa co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka at a Nasa Rally in Kibera on July 18

During a rally in Kibera, the National Super Alliance (Nasa) co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka claimed that if someone called him a dog, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Chairman Francis Ole Kaparo would call that hate speech.

Mr Musyoka was reacting to an announcement by the NCIC that it would hunt down perpetrators of hate speech on social media, and questioned Mr Kaparo’s definition of hate speech.

Newsplex contacted Mr Kaparo seeking clarification on Mr Musyoka’s statement. He said: “He is right and wrong. He is right that calling somebody a dog is not hate speech. He is wrong to imagine I think its hate speech. I made that clarification ages ago.”

The NCIC was developed through the implementation of an Act of Parliament in 2008, to encourage national cohesion by outlawing discrimination on ethnic grounds.

In a meeting organised by The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) on July 17, 2017, NCIC Chair Francis ole Kaparo had warned they would be monitoring any cases of hate speech on social media.

He had also warned of the possibility of shutting down social media “if it would be necessary”. However, Mr Francis Wangusi, the Director General of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) said the internet would remain open, but urged citizens to be responsible.

ETHNIC HATRED

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