UN chief calls for building bridges between faiths

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 04 (APP): Marking the International Day of Human Fraternity on Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a stark warning over rising hate speech, intolerance, discrimination and physical violence.

The UN chief said that the hateful attacks are being directed at some, “simply because of their religion or belief, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.”

His message was broadcast during a virtual panel discussion with Member States, religious leaders, faith actors and civil society representatives, organized by the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) in partnership with the Permanent Missions of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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, Guterres 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”, he 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.”

From deepening poverty and widening inequalities, to conflict, division, and mistrust, the secretary-general 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 added.

Guterres said he 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.