On 22 April 2020, Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, issued a statement concerned about the increased religious hatred and intolerance amid Covid19 outbreak.

The UN Special Rapporteur emphasised that:

“The pandemic has caused a flare-up in existing religious intolerance in many countries. I am alarmed to see the upsurge in incitement to hatred, scapegoating religious or belief communities, including Christians, Jews, and Muslims for the spread of virus.”

He further stressed that certain groups are particularly vulnerable during the Covid19 pandemic:

“Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from different minority groups have also been similarly stigmatised. Those targeted also have faced verbal abuse, death threats, physical attacks and experienced discrimination accessing public services, including denial of vital health services.”

The UN Special Rapporteur called upon everyone to play their part in addressing this dire situation, including:

“I urge civil society and faith-based organisations to widely communicate and assist those in vulnerable situations, regardless of their belief or ethnic background.” 

“States must also be non-discriminatory in assisting those in need and ensure that everyone has fair access to all public and health services.”

“States, all religious leaders and faith actors should step up in promoting social inclusion and solidarity as well as combating incitement to hatred through engagement and education.”

“I appeal to States, faith leaders, civil society, media and general public to reject hate and exclusion and provide support and solidarity to those who could be victimised at this difficult time.”

The full statement can be found here.

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