UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday warned against “a disturbing groundswell” of intolerance and hate-based violence targeting worshippers of many faiths.
He issued a statement in the wake of a shooting in a synagogue in San Diego, California, and an attack on a Protestant church in Burkina Faso, both of which led to multiple casualties.
“Such incidents have become all-too-familiar: Muslims gunned down in mosques, their religious sites vandalized; Jews murdered in synagogues, their gravestones defaced with swastikas; Christians killed at prayer, their churches often torched. Houses of worship, instead of the safe havens they should be, have become targets,” said Guterres.
Beyond the murders, there is loathsome rhetoric: xenophobia aimed not only at religious groups but also at migrants, minorities and refugees; assertions of white supremacy; a resurgence of neo-Nazi ideology; venom directed at anyone considered the “other”, he warned.
Parts of the Internet are becoming hothouses of hate, as like-minded bigots find each other online, and platforms serve to inflame and enable hate to go viral, noted the UN chief.
“As crime feeds on crime, and as vile views move from the fringes to the mainstream, I am profoundly concerned that we are nearing a pivotal moment in battling hatred and extremism.”
The world must step up to stamp out anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred, persecution of Christians and all other forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination and incitement, he said.
Hatred is a threat to everyone – and so this is a job for everyone. Political and religious leaders have a special responsibility to promote peaceful coexistence, said Guterres.
“I will count on the strong support of governments, civil society and other partners in working together to uphold the values that bind us a single human family.”