UN chief calls for respecting all religions in aftermath of killing of Hindu; says freedom of expression also very important

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for “full respect for all religions” in the aftermath of the daylight killing of a Hindu tailor in Udaipur, India, reportedly by two men in retaliation for his social media post supporting suspended ruling BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her comments that were seen as derogatory to Islam and Prophet Mohammed

Jun 30, 2022
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Photo: UN)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for “full respect for all religions” in the aftermath of the daylight killing of a Hindu tailor in Udaipur, India, reportedly by two men in retaliation for his social media post supporting suspended ruling BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her comments that were seen as derogatory to Islam and Prophet Mohammed.

“We call for the full respect for all religions and for ensuring throughout the world that different communities can live in harmony and peace”, his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in reply to a question about “the resurgence of religious tensions” in India and Tuesday’s killing of Kanhayia Lal in a busy market.

Asked on Tuesday about the arrest of Indian journalist Mohammed Zubair, who is charged with hurting religious sentiments, Dujarric had said, “In any place around the world, it is very important that people be allowed to express themselves freely, journalists be allowed to express themselves freely and without the threat of any harassment”.

He was asked on Wednesday to clarify if that applied to journalists’ comments about all religions and if it squared with the call for respecting all religions.

“We believe in the fundamental right of expression, of journalists to express themselves, and we also believe in the fundamental need for people to respect other communities and other religions”, he said. 

“We believe those two statements are very much compatible”, he added. 

Answering another question on the freedom of the media, he said, “Freedom of the press is freedom of the press, and it applies, for us, universally around the world, in 193 Member States. And those principles remain unchanged and unbowed”.

That question was regarding a video statement at the Security Council on Tuesday by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that journalists who “justified the actions of the Russian Army” would be punished.

Two persons, who reportedly posted a video claiming responsibility for the killing in Udaipur, have been arrested.

Nupur Sharma also faces the same charges as Zubair of hurting religious sentiments, although concerning different faiths, but she was not arrested.

India has repeatedly criticised what it said were double standards in reacting to “religiophobia”.

In the most recent statement on the subject, India’s Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti told the General Assembly last week, "It's time that UN member states condemned hatred against non-Abrahamic religions as well and stop from being selective in combating religiophobias".

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