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  • Human Rights Research Center

UN Human Rights Commissioner Concerned by Burning of Quran in Europe

July 11, 2023

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk speaks about the activities of his office and recent human rights developments around the globe, during the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 7, 2023. [Image Source: Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP File]

Cited article by Jamey Keaten, AP News

HRRC is very concerned by the burnings of the Quran. While freedom of expression is a human right, efforts must be made to stop hate speech and prevent acts which incite violence and discrimination. Whether the acts of burning the Quran are intentional for inciting violence or not, it is demonstrative of a rise in discriminatory acts.

Article Summary

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, raised concerns during a special debate over the burnings of the Quran in Sweden and other European countries. Western countries echoed the concerns but ultimately many viewed the burnings as a form of freedom of expression. However, Türk pointed out that the burning of the Quran was being used as a method of furthering divisions and could lead to violence and discrimination.

Türk stated, “advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to violence, discrimination and hostility should be prohibited in every state,” and that hate speech is on the rise, even when it doesn't incite violence. Pakistan and Palestine are leading a push to "prevent and prosecute acts and advocacy of religious hatred that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

In a push to take on all hate speech and discrimination, Türk said, “Dehumanizing women and denying their equality with men; verbally abusing Muslim women and girls who wear a headscarf; sneering at people with disabilities; making false claims that migrants or people of specific ethnicities are more likely to engage in crime or smearing LGBTQ+ people — all such hate speech is similar in that it stems from the baseline notion that some people are less deserving of respect as human beings.”

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