Geneva, 5 October 2023 (TDI): The United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk has criticized the rise of religious hatred, which has deeply affected countless individuals by targeting their core beliefs and identity.

This condemnation came during a discussion within the UN Human Rights Council, focusing on combatting religious hatred that incites discrimination, hostility, or violence.

The discussion takes place at a time when global peace and coexistence face increasing challenges due to divisive rhetoric and actions that promote hatred and division.

The High Commissioner pointed out that since a previous emergency debate on this topic in July, instances of publicly burning copies of the Quran have continued in certain countries, though specific references were not made.

Read more: Pakistan condemns Holy Quran desecration in Netherlands

Over the summer, incidents involving the burning and desecration of the Muslim holy book were observed during demonstrations in Sweden and Denmark.

The chief human rights official identified several factors fueling religious hatred today, including politicians and leaders who endorse policies that divide and suppress dissenting voices.

This trend is exacerbated by the rise of populism, characterized by identity politics that capitalize on nationalism and alarmism.

The lack of education systems that instill respect, tolerance, and understanding among students further contributes to this problem, with Muslim women and girls often experiencing verbal attacks, physical intimidation, and even violence.

The High Commissioner also noted the resurgence of Islamophobia in Europe, Asia, and North America, citing the propagation of harmful stereotypes that dehumanize entire communities. Religion has been manipulated for political purposes in this context.

Religious hate speech, like other forms of hatred, has proliferated online, where social media algorithms amplify such messages, perpetuating ignorance and prejudice.

This atmosphere of rejection also extends to refugee and immigration policies that favor specific religious groups, leading to perceptions of double standards regarding human value.

Religious hatred is not limited by borders, impacting Muslims, Ahmadis, Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, Yazidis, atheists, and many others worldwide.

Its consequences are evident, perpetuating mistrust, stereotypes, and indignity, and sometimes inciting violence.

Religious minorities in certain countries face extensive discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, and the criminal justice system, often due to religious profiling under the guise of national security measures.

The High Commissioner called on Member States to take more significant actions to address the root causes of religious hatred and discrimination, citing the need for public awareness campaigns promoting diversity and non-discriminatory educational systems.

Read more: UNHCR Georgia Encouraged Ukrainian Refugee Children 

In the fight against intolerance, all social media platforms must assume responsibility by promptly moderating content that respects human rights and responding to the concerns of affected individuals.

Measures must also be in place to provide justice and remedies for those facing discrimination.

The ultimate goal is to establish a model for countries to adopt robust legal and policy frameworks to combat religious hatred in line with international human rights law, ensuring swift accountability.