U.S. Explanation of Vote at the Urgent Debate on Acts of Religious Hatred
Thank you, Mr. President.
I was up in the middle of the night with a heavy sense of sadness. I am truly heartbroken that this Council was unable to speak with a unanimous voice today in condemning what we all agree are deplorable acts of anti-Muslim hatred while also respecting freedom of expression. Resolution 16/18 has shown us that this can be done, and I believe that with a little more time and more open discussion, we could have also found a way forward together on this resolution. The U.S. worked hard toward that goal and has repeatedly condemned the precipitating acts. Unfortunately, our concerns were not taken seriously.
The United States acknowledges and deplores the rise in suspicion, discrimination, and outright hatred towards Muslims throughout the world, rightfully characterized by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in a 2021 report as reaching “epidemic proportions.” We will continue to call for the repeal of those laws, policies and practices that perpetuate harmful stereotypes and tropes that depict Muslims and their beliefs and culture as a threat.
We will continue to speak out against all forms of religious hatred and discrimination, including when governments themselves enact policies that systematically restrict and suppress practices that are part of the identity and cultural life of persons belonging to particular religious communities, such as the destruction of places of worship, cemeteries, religious texts and symbols, and restrictions on religious practices. The Council must not turn a blind eye when governments themselves are responsible for religious intolerance, suppression, and acts of hatred.
We strongly believe that hatred withers in the face of public scrutiny and that limiting freedom of expression will only force hateful ideas to find new venues in which to manifest and call undue attention to acts that we would not wish to amplify.
We call on all governments to implement measures such as education; interfaith and intercultural dialogue; urging political, religious, and societal leaders to speak out and condemn offensive expression; and other mechanisms to confront hate speech in all its forms and wherever it occurs.
And I hope we can all agree to uphold our duties and respect the rights of all persons to organize their lives in accordance with their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, identity, and conscience.