Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

In Cairo visit, UN chief Antonio Guterres says social media spreading anti-Muslim hatred

UN Secretary General says Christians and Muslims need common front against intolerance

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks in Cairo after a meeting with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb. AFP
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks in Cairo after a meeting with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb. AFP

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres cited the Quran in a speech at Cairo's Al Azhar Mosque on Tuesday, calling on Muslims and Christians to unite against a “wildfire” of religious hatred being spread online.

His remarks follow the terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand but he also recalled the anti-Semitic killings at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October last year, the worst such attack in US history, as evidence that followers of all faiths had become targets.

“Around the world we are seeing ever-rising anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia. Hate speech is entering the mainstream, spreading like wildfire through social media and radio,” Mr Guterres said in the Egyptian capital, calling it a threat to peace.

“We see it spreading in liberal democracies as well as in authoritarian states. These dark forces menace democratic values, social stability and peace. They stigmatise women, minorities, migrants and refugees.”

Mr Guterres read several passages from the Quran and said the recent visit of Pope Francis to Abu Dhabi and his joining of hands at the Grand Mosque with Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar and chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, was an example that should be repeated.

“I commend this bold move, and the Grand Imam's call for Muslims in the Middle East to protect Christian communities. I also commend the initiatives taken by Al Azhar to promote the true face of Islam and counter violent extremist philosophies and terrorist propaganda.”

Updated: April 2, 2019 06:53 PM

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