People must draw the line when it comes to the “banalization of bigotry”, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned on Monday.
In a hard-hitting speech delivered in The Hague, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called for action to confront European and US demagogues.
“I am angry” the UN human rights chief shared in his address on the state of human rights around the world at an event entitled “The Hague Talks.”
Mr Zeid expressed his distaste for the “lies, half-truths, manipulations and peddling of fear” propagated by so-called “populists, propagandists and political fantasists” like the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders.
The High Commissioner explained that as a Muslim and product of an interracial union between a European and an Arab, he was probably their “worst nightmare”.
Describing Wilders’ recently released 11-point manifesto as “grotesque”, he recalled that the Party for Freedom leader spoke along similar lines in Cleveland a month ago.
According to media reports, Wilders wants to ban all Islamic symbols, mosques and Koran from the Netherlands.
A decade ago, the parliamentarian’s manifesto and Cleveland speech would have created a “world-wide furore”. The UN rights chief noted that they are now met with little more than a shrug.
He urged people to “draw the line” and to not stand by and watch the “banalization of bigotry” which could descend into violence.
Mr Zeid emphasized that he did not equate the actions of nationalist demagogues like Wilders, Donald Trump, the UK’s Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen of France, to name a few, with the “sickening and monstrous” actions of the terrorist group Daesh.
But he warned that the Islamist extremist group also used similar tactics to those of populists when it came to its mode of communication.