Instead of freedom of expression, there is hate speech in Macedonia, say representatives of the NGOs who participated on the debate titled “Freedom of Speech” in Tetovo today.

Insults and calumnies suffered from different categories of citizens rarely come to the court, said civic activist Bekim Asani.

– The hate speech is widespread in Tetovo. Given the diversity of the population of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, hate speech much affects interethnic relations in our city – said Asani.

Participants of the debate said that freedom of expression is often censored when criticizing the government.

– Due to the pressure that is done by government structures, much of the press created the phenomenon of self-censorship. Unfortunately, we are facing a lack of independent media and, therefore, often social media become means which can freely communicate the views of citizens and associations – said Uranija Pirovska of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.

Freedom of speech and expression of the civil society, students and high school students is also prevented with threats and pressures, emphasized NGO Info Center.

However, participants in the debate pointed out that, despite the pressures and intimidation, the majority of citizens are opening their eyes, and are encouraged to freely express their opinions and to demand their rights through protests, as in the case of university and high school students and freelancers.