UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today said he is “appalled” by those who are resorting to religious bigotry for “political gains”, underlining that such “intolerance and opportunism” poisons the society. “Violence against people because of their religious identity or beliefs is an assault on the core values of the United Nations. Such bigotry is also one of today’s greatest threats,” Ban said in a video message for the high-level forum on global anti-semitism at the United Nations on Wednesday.
Ban voiced concern that alongside a global rise in anti-Semitism, the world is also seeing many other alarming forms of discrimination – in particular hatred and stereotyping directed at today’s refugees and migrants.
“I am appalled by those who fan the flames of religious bigotry for political gain. Such intolerance and opportunism does more than poisoning young minds and hearts, it poisons all of society. Time and again, history has shown that those who attack one minority today, will target another tomorrow,” Ban said in his message.
Ban’s strong message comes days after United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein lashed out at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Dutch politician Geert Wilders in a speech at the Hague this week, saying the call by such leaders to ban migrants from Islamic countries puts them in the same league as the terrorist organisation ISIS.
Ahead of the Netherlands’ parliamentary elections next year, Wilders has issued a set of proposals which include banning migrants from Islamic counties and closing mosques, Islamic schools and asylum centres, among other steps.
“Geert Wilders released his grotesque eleven-point manifesto only days ago, and a month ago he spoke along similar lines in Cleveland, in the United States,” the UN official said.
“And yet what Wilders shares in common with Trump, (Hungarian prime minister) Orban, (British politician Nigel) Farage, he also shares with Da’esh (ISIS),” Al Hussein had said.
The rights chief had said that the “humiliating racial and religious prejudice” fanned by the likes of Wilders has become “municipal or even national policy” in some countries.
“We hear of accelerating discrimination in workplaces. Children are being shamed and shunned for their ethnic and religious origins – whatever their passports, they are told they are not ‘really’ European, not ‘really’ French, or British, or Hungarian. Entire communities are being smeared with suspicion of collusion with terrorists,” he had said.
The UN Chief has in the past said “would-be leaders” and politicians should not divide people and racist remarks by them are “outrageous”, in a veiled reference to Trump, who had called for banning Muslims from entering the US earlier in his presidential campaign.
Ban said even though anti-Semitism is one of the world’s oldest, most pervasive and deadliest forms of hatred, still despite the lessons of history and the “horror” of the Holocaust, Jews continue to be targeted for murder and abuse solely because they are Jews.
Asserting that “discrimination does not discriminate”, Ban made a strong call for the international community to reject bigotry, uphold human rights, and build “bridges across communities.”