Racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia must be opposed by everyone in the world, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said amid an outrage over President Donald Trump’s defence of white supremacists following the Charlottesville violence. A woman was killed and 19 other people injured in Charlottesville on Saturday when a suspected white supremacist drove his car into a group of counter-protesters. Trump held ‘both sides’ responsible for the violence. When asked whether he is under pressure from the US government to not speak freely, Guterres strongly replied in the negative.
“I’ve received no pressure at all not to speak. We had, in a previous meeting, discussed, which I read, probably too much of a low profile, and I said that I was going to correct that. I believe this stakeout is the proof that I am doing it,” he added. “Well, I do not comment on what presidents say. I affirm principles. And the principles I affirm are very clear. Racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or Islamophobia are…poisoning our societies. And it is absolutely essential for us all to stand up against them everywhere and every time,” Guterres said.
His comments came in response to a question on Trump’s response to the violence at rallies held by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville over the weekend.
Guterres said speaking as Secretary-General, he should speak for the whole world. He added that as an European, he is proud of the contribution that Europe gave to all civilisation with the values of enlightenment, tolerance, the respect for the other, the importance of recognition of diversity. “And to be able to stand for these values and to… at the same time, to condemn all forms of irrationality that undermine those values is essential, at the present moment, be it in the United States or everywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, these demons are appearing a little bit everywhere,” he said.
Guterres asserted that there is nothing that will influence him not to affirm the values that he considers the essential values of the UN Charter and civilisation. “And, whenever necessary, I will say whatever I believe is necessary, independently of the fact that that might be not pleasant for the President of this country or any other country,” he said.