JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has called for urgent action from the international community to tackle hate speech and promote tolerance in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand.
In an address to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the UN, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, said last Friday’s “cowardly” slaughter of 50 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch went against all religious and coexistence values.
Al-Wasel told council members that the incident was part of a series of racist and ethnic events nourished by a culture of hatred, racism, violence, terrorism, extremism and Islamophobia, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
“We must unite and stand together to fight the hatred and extremism that causes the killing of innocents,” Al-Wasel said.
He pointed out that in some countries hate speech was tolerated on political and media platforms in the context of representing freedom of opinion and expression. But he said such speeches fueled racist tendencies toward religious minorities and migrants, while also propagating extremism and increasing tensions against Muslims, immigrants and other minority groups.
On behalf of the Kingdom, the envoy urged all states to clamp down on extremist voices and enact laws and policies calling for tolerance and acceptance within the framework of the UN’s Durban Declaration and Program of Action.
Meanwhile, Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Osman Al-Tuwaijiri, director general of the Islamic, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), has called on the international community to proclaim March 15 an international day for combating Islamophobia.
He warned against the growth of extremism and hate speech despite efforts over the past three decades in the field of dialogue among cultures.
“Saudi Arabia has consistently declared its rejection of terrorism in all its forms,” Al-Tuwaijiri told Arab News.
He added that King Salman inaugurated the Riyadh-based Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCCEI), which aims to promote moderation and counter the spread of extremism.
“Saudi Arabia has provided substantial financial support to the UN to strengthen its efforts in fight against terrorism,” he said.
He said that Islamophobia has become an international phenomenon with international spinoffs and harmful repercussions for the rights, security and safety of Muslim citizens in countries outside the Islamic world.
Al-Tuwaijiri added that governments and regional and international organizations are invited to intensify their efforts to fight this phenomenon that jeopardizes international peace and security, and said that it runs against the principles of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international declarations, agreements and conventions, especially Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
He called for efforts to be intensified to fight the trend and to promote a culture of dialogue, understanding, harmony, peaceful coexistence and alliance among the followers of different religions and cultures.
Al-Tuwaijiri further called on the international community to fight the phenomenon because it not only targets Muslims and Islam, but also the human values that preach mutual respect and coexistence.