File photo of Antonio Guterres
File photo of Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio blames social media for spread of Islamophobia

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that digital platforms must moderate and prevent the spread of hateful content, while protecting users from harassment.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called out social media for the spread of Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry. "Around the world, we see a rising tide of anti-Muslim hate and bigotry. We must call this what it is: hate -- plain and simple," Guterres was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying.

Purveyors of hate speech are misusing the most powerful megaphone in history -- social media -- to amplify and spread their despicable ideologies. Online platforms have become breeding grounds for extremist ideologies and harassment, he told a high-level event to mark the International Day to Combat Islamophobia on Friday, March 15.

This not only deepens divisions. It fuels real-life violence, he warned.

Sadly, this alarming trend is part of a wider pattern of supremacist ideologies and attacks against Jews, minority Christian communities and many others. Hatred of one group fuels hatred of another. Hate normalizes hate. Hate destroys the fabric of our societies. And hate undermines the equality, understanding and respect for human rights, upon which a peaceful future and a peaceful world depend, said Guterres.

"We cannot stand on the sidelines while hatred and bigotry run wild. Today's event reminds us that we all have a responsibility to confront and root out the scourge of anti-Muslim bigotry," he said.

Political leaders must lead the way and foster social cohesion, not fear. Governments must condemn inflammatory discourse and safeguard religious freedom, in particular for minorities, he said.

Digital platforms must moderate and prevent the spread of hateful content, while protecting users from harassment. Artificial intelligence must reduce biases and stereotypes, not reproduce and amplify them. All people must do their part to dismantle the walls of intolerance and division, he added.

"As we stand united on this International Day to Combat Islamophobia, let us renew our commitment to upholding the principles of equality, dignity, human rights and respect," he said.

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