UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Two senior U.N. officials said Monday they are "sickened by blatant manifestations of hatred and intolerance" by public figures and others, particularly against Muslims, in response to recent extremist attacks.
Adama Dieng, the special adviser on the prevention of genocide, and Jennifer Welsh, the special adviser on the responsibility to protect civilians, said any "advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence" is prohibited by international human rights law and laws in many countries.
In a joint statement, they denounced "the deliberate and dangerous spread of misinformation and the manipulation of people's fears and concerns for political gain."
Dieng and Welsh strongly condemned extremist attacks but underlined that linking such attacks to Muslims has resulted in discrimination and targeting.
They said calls by U.S. political figures for Muslims to be banned from entering the United States, to be registered in a national database or to be forced to carry identification that would highlight their religion are "unacceptable" and "an affront to our common humanity."
They did not specifically name any Americans, but Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has advocated all of these positions, creating a political firestorm that has galvanized his supporters in the Republican base while generating denunciations from the party establishment and all the leading Democratic candidates.
Anti-Muslim sentiment was already building in the United States after the deadly Nov. 13 Paris attacks, with most Republican state governors saying they opposed resettling refugees from Syria's civil war in their states. It intensified after 14 people were killed Dec. 2 in a massacre at a disability center in San Bernardino, California, carried out by a Muslim couple investigators say were inspired at least in part by the Islamic State group. Experts say Trump's call on Dec. 7 to keep all Muslims from entering the U.S. — a plan he said would apply only temporarily and to non-citizens — had only fanned the flames.
Dieng and Welsh said calls for governments to stop accepting refugees from Syria and Iraq are unacceptable.
"Refugees from Syria and Iraq are fleeing precisely the kind of violence that we in the West also fear," they said.
At a time when the world in facing complex challenges including confronting violent extremist groups, the special advisers urged governments and other "leading actors" to "counter lies, prejudice and fear" and respect international and national laws.