Urgent Debate on Acts of Religious Hatred
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
As Delivered by Rashad Hussain, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom
Human Rights Council – 53rd Session
Thank you, Mr. President.
Anti-Muslim hatred, antisemitism, racism, and other forms of hatred targeting religious, ethnic, and any other marginalized or minority groups can lead to discrimination and violence around the world.
When governments respect the right to freedom of religion or belief, including the ability to practice ones’s faith or to not practice a faith, people can make their fullest contributions to their community’s success. Entire societies are better off when their members are free to choose their own paths.
The United States, along with many countries around the world, has strongly and openly condemned the disrespectful and disgraceful acts of June 28th. I have done so consistently during my time in public service going back to the Obama Administration and as someone who myself has gone through training for memorization of the Quran, I deeply understand the hurtful and offensive nature of acts of desecration. I believe that we must come together to condemn hateful speech and engage in debate and dialogue to foster tolerance and to build respect.
So how should we respond to such hatred? Well we know from experience that attempting to ban such expression actually usually amplifies it further by bringing even more attention to it, it often serves as a catalyst for further hatred. These real dynamics are also part of the reason why the United States strongly opposes blasphemy laws and other laws that purport to criminalize speech. Such laws also fail to address the underlying causes of bigotry.
We must reinvigorate education and interfaith and intercultural dialogue to confront hate speech. We may of course never be able to stop isolated individuals from spewing hate. But we can, together, work to ensure that they remain isolated: by building tolerant, cohesive, just societies.
In this spirit we reaffirm our commitment to Resolution 16/18 and to its action plan to combat intolerance based on religion or belief.
The United States will continue work alongside other governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society to stand up for religious freedom and to address hatred around the world.