Industry of Hate vs. Culture of Peace

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Industry of Hate vs. Culture of Peace

Describing insults to and provocations against religion as no different than scribbles on the walls of a toilet, Nigeria's Nobel Laureate and author Wole Soyinka spoke at UNHQ in NYC at this week's "Culture of Peace" series of events and conferences.

Nigerian author and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka today (21 September) said it was futile to try and prevent "infantile" insults to religion from spreading through technology, but that the same technology should be used to "educate the ignorant".

The anti-Islamic film "Innocence of Muslims", and the violent reactions after its distribution on the Internet, featured prominently as an example of extremism and intolerance during a debate on the 'culture of peace' held at UN headquarters today on the occasion of the International Day of Peace.

The head of the UN's cultural organization, UNESCO, Irina Bokova told the meeting that in fact peace was also "failing" in many other areas, as evidenced in "societies torn apart by violence", poverty and discrimination suffered by millions of people, especially women, and attacks on cultural and historical sites in Mali and Syria.

Soyinka, who serves on a UNESCO panel on peace and dialogue among cultures, found strong words against religious extremism, which he said was holding the world to ransom by using religion as an excuse for crimes against humanity.

He said "the science-fiction archetype of the mad scientist who craves to dominate the world, has been replaced by the mad cleric, who can only conceive of the world in his own image. The sooner national leaders and authentic religious leaders understand this, and admit that no nation has any lack of its own dangerous loonies – be they known as Ansar Dine of Mali or Terry Jones of Florida – the earlier they turn their attention to real issues of human priority."

Soyinka likened the current attacks on Islam that have resulted in violent protests and deaths in several countries to "the infantile scribble we encounter on public toilets", and urged people to ignore and "walk away from them", rather than answering with "equally infantile responses, that are however incendiary and homicidal in dimension, and largely directed against the innocent".

He concluded by saying it would be "pathetic to demand what cannot be guaranteed", namely for all people to adhere to absolute tolerance all of the time. It would also be "futile to reign in technology", which speeds up the spread of hatred. The solution, he said, was to "use that very technology to correct noxious conceptions in the minds of the perpetrators of abuse, and educate the ignorant."

Wole Soyinka, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, is among contemporary Africa's greatest writers. He has published more than thirty works and is best known for his plays and poetry. An outspoken critic of oppression for decades, he has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO since 1994.


Language: English

Year of Production: 2012

Length: 3:00

Country: United Nations


  • Muhamed Sacirbey (UNTV)


  • Susan Sacirbey (UNTV)