NEW YORK: Voicing extreme concern over discrimination, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday said the United Nations must strengthen its work to improve human rights.
Guterres told a Holocaust commemoration event that discrimination faced by immigrants and refugees as well as the stereotyping of Muslims were opening the door to even more extreme hatred.
His remarks came as US President Donald Trump was reportedly preparing to suspend the US refugee program and halt visas for travellers from seven Muslim countries.
“I am extremely concerned at the discrimination faced by immigrants, refugees and minorities across the world. Today, I find the stereotyping of Muslims deeply troubling,” he told the General Assembly.
“A ‘new normal’ of public discourse is taking hold, in which prejudice is given a free pass and the door is opened to even more extreme hatred.”
“We need to be vigilant,” Guterres added.
“The United Nations itself must do more to strengthen its human rights machinery, and to push for justice for the perpetrators of grave crimes.”
Trump is reportedly considering a draft executive order that would ban refugees from Syria from entering the United States while the broader US refugee program would be suspended for 120 days.
“The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets. What, you think this is going to cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place,” Trump told ABC News this week about his plan.
Under the proposed plan, all visa applications from countries deemed a terrorist threat — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen — will be halted for 30 days.
Guterres said anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and anti-Muslim hatred were being whipped up by populism and “by political figures who exploit fear to win votes.”