UN chief meets NZ mosque victims, decries online hate

By AFP / Pic By BLOOMBERG

CHRISTCHURCH • United Nations (UN) secretary general Antonio Guterres warned hate speech was spreading online “like wildfire” at a meeting with victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings yesterday, vowing the world body will lead efforts to extinguish the problem.

Guterres visited the Al Noor mosque, one of two Muslim centres in the New Zealand city where a selfdescribed white supremacist killed 51 people in a March 15 shooting that the attacker live-streamed on Facebook.

The UN chief is travelling the South Pacific to highlight the impact of climate change, but said he also wanted to show his support for Christchurch’s Muslim community during Ramadhan.

“I know there are no words to relieve the hurt and sorrow and pain, but I wanted to come here personally to transmit love, support and total and complete admiration,” the Portuguese diplomat said.

He told victims of the worst mass shooting in modern New Zealand history that there had been “a dangerous upsurge in hatred” as social media was exploited to promote bigotry.

“Hate speech is spreading like wildfire in social media. We must extinguish it…There is no room for hate speech — online or offline.”

He highlighted a previously announced plan for his special advisor on genocide prevention Adama Dieng to combat online extremism. He said Dieng’s mission was to “bring together a UN team to scale up our response to hate speech and present a global plan of action”. — AFP