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April 20, 2020 12:18 pm

UN Human Rights Expert Sounds Warning on Rising Antisemitism During Coronavirus Pandemic

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‘Stamp on the Jews’ — antisemitic graffiti on an Italian street. Photo: Osservatorio Antisemitismo.

A prominent United Nations official dealing with human rights has sounded the alarm on the rise of antisemitic rhetoric around the world since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am extremely concerned to see that certain religious leaders and politicians continue to exploit the challenging times during this pandemic to spread hatred against Jews and other minorities,” Ahmed Shaheed — the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief — said in a statement on Friday. “We must collectively reject antisemitism and other forms of intolerance and discrimination now.”

The statement noted that “‘conspiracy’ theory prevails in claiming that Jews or Israel are responsible for developing and spreading COVID-19 virus to reduce the non-Jewish population and to control the world.”

Shaheed urged UN member states “to invest in preventive security measures and enact appropriate hate crime legislation.”

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He also reiterated an earlier call on member states to endorse the Working Definition of Antisemitism drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA).

Shaheed encouraged governments “to work with Jewish communities and organizations to strengthen monitoring of hate speech or crimes, and to develop strategies to support victims of antisemitism.”

He continued: “It is imperative for the civil society organizations and faith-based actors to signal a zero-tolerance policy towards antisemitism online and offline.”

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