UN human rights chief slams hatred surge sparked by Gaza war

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The UN human rights chief said Saturday he was “disgusted” by the “sharp rise in hatred globally” since the war between Hamas and Israel began on October 7.

Volker Turk strongly deplored the surge in cases of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other hate-speech, both online and offline.

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“The impact of this crisis... has sent shockwaves across every region, dehumanizing both Palestinians and Jews,” Turk said in a statement.

“We have witnessed a sharp spike in hate speech, violence and discrimination, deepening social fractures and polarization... I have heard from both Jews and Muslims that they don’t feel safe, and it saddens me,” he added.

Israeli troops have encircled Gaza’s largest city, trying to crush Hamas in retaliation for October 7 raids that Israeli officials say killed an estimated 1,400 people inside Israel, most of them civilians.

The health ministry in Gaza, run by Hamas, says more than 9,200 Gazans, mostly women and children, have been killed in the Israeli military campaign.

Turk said that around the world “Islamophobic and anti-Semitic harassment, attacks and hate speech have multiplied, including in the context of protests relating to the conflict”.

He said homes and religious buildings had been defaced with threatening symbols along with other images and messages “meant to frighten and provoke hate”.

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights also hit out at “inflammatory, toxic and hateful rhetoric” used by political leaders.

“The torrent of hateful language being used, including on social media, is abhorrent,” he said.

“International human rights law is clear on this. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is prohibited.”

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