VIENNA: Saudi Arabia has called on the UN to strengthen global efforts to criminalize racial discrimination, the promotion of hatred and intolerance.
Addressing an international legal conference in Austria, Dr. Abdullah bin Fakhri Al-Ansari, an adviser to the Saudi Interior Ministry, said the Kingdom is considering new laws to clamp down on what has become a major threat to world peace and security.
Al-Ansari, who is also the ministry’s director general of legal affairs and international cooperation, told delegates that urgent action is required to combat intolerance based on ideology and race.
Leading the Saudi delegation at the 28th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, at the UN’s offices in Vienna, he said Islam and Muslims in many countries have been subjected to deliberate campaigns of distortion.
Based on reports, Al-Ansari added that in the past few years, hatred and intolerance against Islam had reached “disturbing” levels.
The opening session of the meeting, which runs until May 24, began with a discussion on effective and humane criminal justice systems to prevent and respond to crimes motivated by intolerance or discrimination.
Al-Ansari reviewed the legislation and regulations enacted by the Kingdom to criminalize all forms of racial discrimination, hatred, intolerance, incitement, and dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred.
He said Saudi authorities are considering a new law to criminalize racism, hatred, the formation of racist organizations, attacks on places of worship, contempt for religion, the promotion of hatred, discrimination against individuals and groups, and the undermining of historical figures. The draft law also aims to protect society from discrimination on ethnic, tribal, regional, doctrinal, intellectual or political grounds.
Al-Ansari said hate speech based on extremist thought not only targets Islam and Muslims but also democratic regimes.
He urged all regional and international organizations to strengthen efforts to combat impunity for crimes against religions, condemn and prevent intolerance and discrimination, and continue to issue laws restricting hate speech against religions and their followers.
He noted the need for strong legislation in cyberspace, which he said has become a breeding ground for extremist ideas. The Saudi delegation joined representatives from Japan, Australia, Austria, Colombia and Mexico in presenting four draft resolutions on technical assistance to implement international conventions against terrorism, sexual exploitation, abuse of children and cybercrime.