Report by UN rights expert notes rise in racism xenophobia and antiSemitism

“This phenomenon would appear to be the consequence of the electoral successes of nationalist and extreme right parties in a number of countries and to influence measures adopted with respect to immigration, especially between countries of the South and those of the North,” says Maurice Glèlè-Ahanhanzo of Benin, Special Rapporteur of the Geneva-based UN Commission on Human Rights. “It may also be the consequence of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, which seem to have engendered a stigmatization of Muslims and Arabs, who are supposed to be hand in glove with the terrorists,” he adds in the report prepared in accordance with a March 2002 resolution of the UN General Assembly on measures to combat contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Mr. Glèlè-Ahanhanzo notes that there have been numerous allegations complaining of the “rigorous treatment awaiting travellers from countries of the South in the consulates of the North, of the extreme selectiveness in granting visas and of the frequent instances of racial profiling in the airports of the latter countries.”Combined with the security measures designed to combat terrorism, the measures against immigration now give the impression that an “iron curtain” is falling between the North and the South of the planet, he says.The report also points to the fact that in parallel with the worsening of tension in the Middle East, anti-Semitic acts, including harm to property and people and attacks on Jewish institutions and places of worship, have increased in number. “Combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance requires conviction, consistency, perseverance and determination,” Mr. Glèlè-Ahanhanzo says. “It is imperative that everyone everywhere, without any distinction, through education and in all humility, should internalize human rights, especially the equal dignity of the human person, and should practise them in his or her daily life in social relationships, at both the national and the international levels.”

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