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UN chief warns against Neo-Nazi groups on commemorating day of Holocaust victims

Updated:2019-01-29 10:38:05

  UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday said that the old anti-Semitism is back and neo-Nazi groups are proliferating.

  In his remarks at a ceremony marking the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, the UN chief said that there were "attempts to rewrite the history of the Holocaust, to distort its magnitude and to sanitize the wartime records of leaders, citizens and societies."

  A recent Public Broadcasting System program conducted an in-depth exploration of one of the extremist and white supremacist organizations in the United States that promotes hatred against Jews, and also other minorities, homosexuals and others, said the secretary-general, adding that this organization seeks out people with military experience, and encourages sympathizers to join the armed forces to gain weapons training.

  "Not only is anti-Semitism still strong - it is getting worse," said Guterres.

  According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased 57 percent in 2017, and the European Union's Fundamental Rights Agency reported last year that 28 percent of Jews had experienced some form of harassment just for being Jewish, he said.

  On Oct. 27, 2018, 11 people were killed and six others were injured after a gunman opened fire inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  Guterres said that the incident was "the worst anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States," and it was precisely in keeping with Neo-Nazi group's advocacy of violent, so-called "lone wolf" attacks.

  "Inevitably, where there is anti-Semitism, no one else is safe," said Guterres, and he urged people to "rise up against rising anti-Semitism" and stand up to those who disseminate hatred."

  According to Guterres, he has asked his special adviser on the prevention of genocide to assess the efforts of the UN system in countering hate speech and to devise a global plan of action.

  The UN chief also urged that these questions should be clearly introduced in the curricula in schools and that "students will never be able to deny these facts."

  Guterres said that education of the Holocaust, genocide and the history of slavery is crucial. "Because indeed, countering hate speech is essential to preventing hate crimes. That means rejecting hate in schools and workplaces, at sporting events and on the street," he said.

  In addition to "proclaiming principles" and "vilifying the violators," the secretary-general called on the international community to work for a fair globalization, by addressing the roots of the anxieties and angers that make people susceptible to populism and demagoguery.

  "Our response must be clear: to strengthen all we do to build the defences, the laws and the mindsets that will uphold the dignity of all, for all time, having the fight against anti-semitism in the front lines," he said.

  International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a global memorial day on Jan. 27 designated by the United Nations in 2005 to commemorate the genocide that occurred during World War II, and this year's theme is "Holocaust Remembrance: Demand and Defend Your Human Rights."