Intolerance and extremism have to be confronted head on. In the face of acts of bigotry, inaction doesn’t work and silence can be seen as consent.
Recent words and actions by Gainsesville Pastor Terry Jones are offensive and dangerous. They express religious hatred and show deliberate disrespect for Muslims.
The desecration of the Quran – as of any holy text — has to be vehemently repudiated. More than this, no religion tolerates the slaughter of innocents.
The outrageous attack on the UN Assistance Mission in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan, the victims of which include both UN workers and Afghan demonstrators, has to be firmly condemned, as does the violence that is spreading to other provinces.
The advocacy of religious hatred that amounts to incitement to hostility or violence against believers in all regions of the world has to be condemned and prevented. Intolerance and extremism have to be addressed by long-term action focused on education for a culture of respect that is based on the value of toleration of diverse beliefs, commitments and actions of different people.
Accordingly, I would like to call on governments, religious leaders and civil society to scale up efforts and work closely within the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations to confront intolerance and extremism as a key dimension of peace, human security and sustainable development.