UN chief calls for end to virus hate speech

AP , Friday 8 May 2020

UN Chief
File photo: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, February 8, 2020. (AFP)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the coronavirus pandemic keeps unleashing ``a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering.''

The U.N. chief said Friday that ``anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have spread, and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred.''

Guterres said migrants and refugees ``have been vilified as a source of the virus _ and then denied access to medical treatment.''

``With older persons among the most vulnerable, contemptible memes have emerged suggesting they are also the most expendable,'' he said. ``And journalists, whistleblowers, health professionals, aid workers and human rights defenders are being targeted simply for doing their jobs.''

Guterres appealed ``for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally.''

The secretary-general called on political leaders to show solidarity with all people, on educational institutions to focus on ``digital literacy'' at a time when ``extremists are seeking to prey on captive and potentially despairing audiences.''

He called on the media, especially social media, to ``remove racist, misogynist and other harmful content,'' on civil society to strengthen their outreach to vulnerable people, and on religious figures to serve as ``models of mutual respect.''

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