Saudi Arabia calls for global action on hate speech

Saudi Ambassador to the UN Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, right, speaks at the UN in Geneva. (File photo)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Saudi Arabia calls for global action on hate speech

  • Saudi Ambassador to the UN made the call following the “cowardly” slaughter of 50 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand
  • March 15 to be declared international day for combating Islamophobia: ISESCO

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has called for urgent action from the international community to tackle hate speech and promote tolerance in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand.

In an address to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the UN, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, said last Friday’s “cowardly” slaughter of 50 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch went against all religious and coexistence values.

Al-Wasel told council members that the incident was part of a series of racist and ethnic events nourished by a culture of hatred, racism, violence, terrorism, extremism and Islamophobia, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

“We must unite and stand together to fight the hatred and extremism that causes the killing of innocents,” Al-Wasel said.

He pointed out that in some countries hate speech was tolerated on political and media platforms in the context of representing freedom of opinion and expression. But he said such speeches fueled racist tendencies toward religious minorities and migrants, while also propagating extremism and increasing tensions against Muslims, immigrants and other minority groups.

On behalf of the Kingdom, the envoy urged all states to clamp down on extremist voices and enact laws and policies calling for tolerance and acceptance within the framework of the UN’s Durban Declaration and Program of Action.

Meanwhile, Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Osman Al-Tuwaijiri, director general of the Islamic, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), has called on the international community to proclaim March 15 an international day for combating Islamophobia.

He warned against the growth of extremism and hate speech despite efforts over the past three decades in the field of dialogue among cultures.

“Saudi Arabia has consistently declared its rejection of terrorism in all its forms,” Al-Tuwaijiri told Arab News. 

He added that King Salman inaugurated the Riyadh-based Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCCEI), which aims to promote moderation and counter the spread of extremism.

“Saudi Arabia has provided substantial financial support to the UN to strengthen its efforts in fight against terrorism,” he said.

He said that Islamophobia has become an international phenomenon with international spinoffs and harmful repercussions for the rights, security and safety of Muslim citizens in countries outside the Islamic world.

Al-Tuwaijiri added that governments and regional and international organizations are invited to intensify their efforts to fight this phenomenon that jeopardizes international peace and security, and said that it runs against the principles of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international declarations, agreements and conventions, especially Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

He called for efforts to be intensified to fight the trend and to promote a culture of dialogue, understanding, harmony, peaceful coexistence and alliance among the followers of different religions and cultures.

Al-Tuwaijiri further called on the international community to fight the phenomenon because it not only targets Muslims and Islam, but also the human values that preach mutual respect and coexistence.


Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019
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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.