Islamophobia: UN chief warns against rising anti-Muslim hatred

Islamophobia: UN chief warns against rising anti-Muslim hatred
UN chief Antonio Guterres warned against growing hatred of Muslims, less than a month after a deadly attack on mosques in New Zealand.
3 min read
02 April, 2019
Guterres warned of a surge in hate speech he said was "entering the mainstream [Getty]
The UN's chief warned against growing hatred of Muslims on Tuesday, less than a month after a deadly attack on mosques in New Zealand killed at least 50 worshippers. 

Antonio Guterres made the remarks during a speech at Egypt's al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's foremost religious institution, where he met Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb. 

"Around the world, we are seeing ever-rising anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia," the UN secretary general said. 

He cited the 15 March New Zealand mosque attacks by a white supremacist as well as a 2018 synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh that killed 11 people and is believed to be the deadliest against Jews in US history. 

Guterres warned of a surge in hate speech he said was "entering the mainstream, spreading like wildfire through social media". 

"We see it spreading in liberal democracies and as well as in authoritarian states."

The remarks were made nearly a month after 50 Muslim worshippers were massacred as they were taking part in the weekly Friday prayers at two separate mosques in Christchurch.

The accused gunman, a self-avowed white supremacist from Australia, livestreamed much of the attack and spread a manifesto on social media claiming it was a strike against Muslim "invaders".

In the rambling manifesto, the gunman had said he was motivated partly by a desire to stoke a violent response from Muslims and a religious war between Islam and the West. He also described President Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity".

Trump, who is behind the Muslim ban in the US, has drawn criticism for being slow to condemn right wing extremism said Twitter and other social media are discriminating against conservatives shortly after the Christchurch attack took place.

After a 2017 clash between white nationalists and anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one demonstrator dead, Trump said there were "very fine people on both sides".

He also did not immediately reject the support of David Duke, a former KKK Grand Wizard, during his presidential campaign.

But concerns raised about far-right extremists being emboldened by the massacre were soon found to be substantial, especially in the UK where the number of Islamophobic attacks saw a 593 percent jump in the week after the attack.

Five mosques in the UK city of Birmingham have been attacked amid heightened fears about the threat of Islamophobia in the country, where politicians, thinktanks and media outlets have been slammed for allegedly stirring anti-Muslim sentiment. 

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian far-right extremist, was charged with murder over the worst modern-day massacre in New Zealand.

Guterres is on a two-day trip to Egypt, Following his visit to al-Azhar, he was scheduled to meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. 

On Sunday, he attended an Arab League summit in Tunisia. 

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