RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has told the UN that it denounces hate speech “of all kinds and forms,” reiterating that its efforts to promote tolerance, as well as combat all aspects of extremism and violence, are continuing worldwide.
The Kingdom’s comments were made during a UN General Assembly meeting on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York to mark the first International Day for Countering Hate Speech.
Sulafa Mousa, head of the social, humanitarian, and cultural committee of the Saudi permanent delegation to the UN, said that the commemoration “comes at a very important time, as humanity suffers from the repercussions of epidemics, conflicts and natural disasters, which have added new dimensions to the cohesion and resilience of societies.”
She underlined Saudi Arabia’s belief that tolerance is the basis for coexistence and creating civilizations, and also stressed the significance of combating hate speech and abstaining from violence.
Mousa said that the Kingdom has a proven record of fighting hate speech, as well as encouraging tolerance as a way of life and a universal value among people.
The King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue played a significant part in advancing these ideas and ensuring they are ingrained in society, she said.
Mousa said that the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology established in the Kingdom is “working on implementing a roadmap to curb hate speech and close in on its propagators.”
This strategy includes stifling sources of hatred in media and social networks, encouraging people to report hate crimes, enhancing the role of education in combating hate speech, and fostering a culture of cooperation.
The Saudi Ministry of Education has released a document of human rights concepts in school curricula to incorporate the values of equality and rejection of hatred, and to emphasize that tolerance is one of the main pillars in developing Islamic studies curricula.
Mousa said that the widespread use of social media has produced a favorable environment for the promotion and dissemination of hate speech by terrorist organizations. Increased international efforts and the creation of strategic plans to thwart their tactics are needed, she added.
The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue is working to advance dialogue, strengthen coexistence, respect diversity, accept pluralism and support shared citizenship between nations, she said.
This year, the Kingdom hosted a forum on “Common Values among Religious Followers,” which sought to increase collaboration and trust between global spiritual leaders, encourage moderation and harmony, and support initiatives to promote tolerance and peace.
“Differences between people in terms of races, religions and ideas will never go away or be eliminated,” she said. “Hate speech is based on the non-acceptance of the other, and tolerance and acceptance of others are the only ways to create a stable and secure international community free from unrest, tension and division.”
According to Zaid Al-Fadhil, director of the cultural program at the Gulf Research Center, Saudi Arabia has made significant progress in promoting tolerance and rejecting extremism.
He said that the Makkah Declaration of 2005 “has unquestionably established the discourse of tolerance and the reduction of hate speech, which was recently strengthened in the Makkah document issued by the Muslim World League.”
The declaration emphasized a culture of tolerance, and was approved by the leaders of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and many intellectuals, where for the first time eight Islamic sects were recognized.