UN rights chief condemns Western populist politicians

UN official Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein says ‘populist’ right wing politicians including Nigel Farage, Geert Wilders and Donald Trump use of damaging language saying it is no different to DAESH's rhetoric.

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein

The populist language of right-wing ‘political fantasists’ in the West is promoting a humiliating racial and religious prejudice, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said on Monday.

Speaking at The Hague, Zeid reacted to a controversial proposal by Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, who suggested in an eleven-point manifesto the shutting down of Islamic schools, the banning of expression of faith and the closing of asylum centres.

He also warned such rhetoric could lead to violence. 

Zeid’s speech was directly addressed to right wing politicians, a number of whom he mentioned by name, including US Presidental candidate Donald Trump and British politician Nigel Farage.

“What Wilders shares in common with Mr. Trump, Mr. Orban, Mr. Zeman, Mr. Hofer, Mr. Fico, Madame Le Pen, Mr. Farage, he also shares with DAESH,” he said.

The human rights chief later clarified that even though the actions of those far-right politicians could not be equated to the ‘sickening’ acts carried out by the DAESH terrorist group, their way of presenting information was similar.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump watches as Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage speaks at a campaign rally in Jackson, Mississippi, US, August 24, 2016. Photo: Reuters

“In its mode of communication, its use of half-truths and oversimplification, the propaganda of DAESH uses tactics similar to those of the populists,” Zeid said.

“Both sides of this equation benefit from each other – indeed would not expand in influence without each others’ actions.”

The 52-year old chief who previously served as Jordan’s ambassador to the US concluded his speech with a call for unity.

“Are we going to continue to stand by and watch this banalisation of bigotry, until it reaches its logical conclusion?” he asked as he pointed out the inadequate reaction to polarisation resulting from far-right rhetoric.

“We must pull back from this trajectory.”

TRTWorld and agencies