Wednesday, July 24, 2024

On violations of Hindu temples, spokesperson says Guterres concerned about attacks on places of worship

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “is concerned about the attacks that we’ve seen around the world on various religions and especially on places of worship”, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday when asked about the recent attacks on Hindu temples in the US, Canada, and Australia.

Earlier, Guterres, in remarks to the Security Council focused only on the three Abrahamic religions, saying: “Around the world, we are witnessing a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, violent misogyny, anti-Muslim hatred, virulent anti-Semitism, and attacks on minority Christian communities.”

Referring to the statement, Dujarric was asked about Guterres’ concerns about Hinduism in view of the rising attacks on its places of worship.

“When religious groups have are living in a community where they’re a minority, and where they’re vulnerable”, Dujarric said, “it is incumbent on people to lower [the rhetoric], to increase the dialogue, increase tolerance, and on host communities to ensure that minorities are protected”.

India has been concerned about what it has described as the exclusion of non-Abrahamic religions in formal statements and resolutions at the UN about bigotry and anti-religious violence.

Former Permanent Representative T. S. Tirumurti said last June at the General Assembly: “India has time and again emphasised that combating religiophobia can never succeed if it continues to be exclusionary and remains restricted to one or two religions only, while completely ignoring the rise in hatred and discrimination against non-Abrahamic religions including Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism.”

In December, Counsellor at India’s UN Mission, Ashish Sharma, told the Assembly: “This august body fails to acknowledge the rise of hatred and violence against Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism” while speaking on bigotry only against the three religions. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, that trace their origins to the Jewish prophet Abraham.

At the Council on Wednesday on “The Values of Humanity in Promoting and Sustaining Peace”, Guterres said that hate that “fuels humanity’s worst impulses” is “the bloody heart of conflict”.

“And that heart is pumping venom and division throughout the bloodstream of the global body politic,” he said.

While “demonisation of the other” and disregard for human rights have always been there, the advent of social media has been a force multiplier, he said.

“Social media has equipped hatemongers with a global bullhorn for bile” and “hate-fueled ideas and language are moving from the margins to the mainstream, coarsening the public discourse, and triggering real-life violence”, he said.

“The perpetrators of the heinous attacks on a mosque in Christchurch, a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and a church in Charleston all were radicalised online,” he pointed out.

“We must reign in the hate that is spreading online,” he said.

For that, he said he has proposed “a code of conduct to help Member States, digital platforms and other stakeholders make the digital space more inclusive and safer for all – while defending the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to access information”.

He also said that religious leaders had a duty to prevent the “instrumentalisation of hatred” among their adherents.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in and followed at @arulouis)

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