UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday pledged action to help protect religious sites worldwide, during a visit to a New York Islamic center one week after the New Zealand mosque shootings that shocked the world.
"Mosques and all places of prayer and contemplation should be safe havens, not sites of terror," Guterres said. "Worshippers must feel safe to worship."
Guterres met with worshippers at the Islamic Cultural Center's mosque in Manhattan as they gathered ahead of Friday prayers and offered "solidarity with the Muslim community from New York to New Zealand and beyond."
Speaking to reporters, the UN chief announced that he had tasked Spanish diplomat Miguel Moratinos with the drafting of an action plan for the UN to support efforts to protect religious sites. Moratinos heads the UN Alliance of Civilisations, a group that seeks to foster better understanding between cultures and societies. The group will reach out to governments, religious leaders and organizations to explore actions to prevent such hate attacks.