World seeing rise of exclusive politics: UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay

"We see today the rise of exclusive politics and discourses of division. We see diversity being rejected as a source of weakness. "We see myths of 'pure' cultures of lore being gloried, fuelled by ignorance and sometimes hatred. We see others being scapegoated and repressed."

By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: November 16, 2017 11:15 pm
Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Audrey Azoulay REUTERS/File

The world is seeing a rise of “exclusive politics” and discourses of division, and diversity is being rejected as “source of weakness”, Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay said on Thursday.

Marking the International Day for Tolerance today, the world body chief, also said, societies are seeing, “Myths of ‘pure’ cultures of lore being gloried”. “We see others being scapegoated and repressed. We see barbaric terrorist attacks designed to weaken the fabric of ‘living together’,” Azoulay said in a statement released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to mark the day.

Her message was read out by a UNESCO India official at an event held by the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the ICCR here, to celebrate Sarajevo Haggadah, the illuminated manuscripts that its envoy said was a “symbol of survival”.

Across the world, societies are undergoing a deep transformation, just as globalisation is accelerating. This is opening vast opportunities for dialogue and exchange. It is also raising new challenges, sharpened by inequality and poverty, enduring conflicts and movements of people, Azoulay, who was recently appointed its chief, said. “We see today the rise of exclusive politics and discourses of division. We see diversity being rejected as a source of weakness. “We see myths of ‘pure’ cultures of lore being gloried, fuelled by ignorance and sometimes hatred. We see others being scapegoated and repressed,” she said.

The UNESCO Director General emphasised that tolerance also must mean standing up to all forms of racism, hatred and discrimination, because discrimination against one is discrimination against all. Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sabit Subasic in his address to the gathering, flagged that the space between tolerance and extreme tolerance is “very often, very narrow”. “We are suddenly getting terribly intolerant. I believe we live in an era where the danger is obvious and very visible… Because, probably more than ever before, today we can easily get xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic. Bigotry, predatory, cruelty, inhumanity is widely present,” he said.

And, politicians are very skillful in provoking and developing extreme intolerance. “I think, for one, who has political ambitions, the cheapest and the most effective way to earn political points is to play that card, ignite intolerance towards others. “And, success is guaranteed,” he said.

About the Sarajevo Haggadah, he said, we are celebrating this book on this day as it is a beautiful symbol of survival itself, and of tolerance. A senior official of the United Nations Information Centre here, said the book has serviced the Spanish Inquisition and the two World Wars and the turmoil in Bosnia in the 90s.

It is handwritten on bleached calfskin and illuminated in copper and gold. It opens with 34 pages of illustrations of key scenes in the Bible from creation through the death of Moses. Its pages are stained with wine, evidence that it was used at many Passover Seders, he said.

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