Marking the International Day of Human Fraternity on Friday, the United Nations’ Secretary-General issued a stark warning over rising hate speech, intolerance, discrimination and physical violence. According to António Guterres, the hateful attacks are being directed at some, “simply because of their religion or belief, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.”
The designation of 4 February as the International Day of Human Fraternity is the result of a UN General Assembly resolution adopted in December 2020, as a way to promote greater cultural and religious tolerance.
Celebrating the date for the second time, the UN chief said it should be an opportunity to reflect on the importance of cultural and religious understanding, and mutual respect.
“I am grateful to religious leaders across the world who are joining hands to promote dialogue and interfaith harmony”, Mr. Guterres said.
The Secretary-General also highlighted the declaration, Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, co-authored by the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Egyptian Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, calling it “a model for compassion and human solidarity.”
“We need this spirit more than ever”, he declared.
From deepening poverty and widening inequalities, to conflict, division, and mistrust, Mr. Guterres said that “our human family faces a cascade of challenges.”
“To confront them, we need to challenge those who exploit differences, traffic in hate, and instill fear of ‘the other’ in anxious hearts”, he continued.
Mr. Guterres believes “these heinous acts are violations of human rights and affronts to the values of the United Nations.”
The UN chief concluded with an appeal to stand firm against bigotry wherever and whenever we see it.
“Let us recognize our diversity as a richness that strengthens us all. Let us build bridges between the faiths, inspired by our common humanity.
“And let us come together in solidarity to create a more inclusive, peaceful and just world for all”, he said.
Besides Mr. Guterres, the discussion included the High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, the Secretary-General of Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, leading New York Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the Secretary-General of Religions for Peace, Azza Karam, as well as the Permanent Observer of the Holy See, and representatives of Morocco, India, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia.