The amount of antisemitic conspiracy theories has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as he issued a global call to combat the rising tide of hate speech.
“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,” Guterres said.
“The pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering. Anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets. Antisemitic conspiracy theories have spread, and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred,” Guterres said.
Others who have been targeted by hate speech as the result of the virus have been migrants, refugees, seniors, journalists, whistle blowers, health professionals, aid workers and human rights defenders, he explained.
Politicians must show solidarity with all those residing in their countries. Educational institutions must increase digital literacy so that young people can be protected from extremists. The media, particularly social media, must do more to remove racist content from their sites.
“I ask everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness,” Guterres said. “As we combat this pandemic, we have a duty to protect people, end stigma and prevent violence. Let’s defeat hate speech – and COVID-19 – together.”