UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed alarm at the spread of antisemitic and racist conspiracy theories during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
He urged the international community to collectively stand up to the “tsunami of hate,” in a special message saying: “Covid-19 does not care who we are, where we live, what we believe or about any other distinction.”
Guterres said: “Anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets. Antisemitic conspiracy theories have spread, and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred. Migrants and refugees have been vilified as a source of the virus — and then denied access to medical treatment. With older persons among the most vulnerable, contemptible memes have emerged suggesting they are also the most expendable.”
“We must act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate. That’s why I’m appealing today for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally,” he added.
He acknowledging the attempts of countries like China and Iran to shut down the information flow around the pandemic, expressing the regret that “journalists, whistleblowers, health professionals, aid workers and human rights defenders are being targeted simply for doing their jobs.”