UN chief Antonio Guterres yesterday warned against growing hatred of Muslims, less than a month after a deadly attack on mosques in New Zealand killed at least 50 people.
His remarks came during a speech at Egypt's Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's foremost religious institution, where he met Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb.
"Around the world, we are seeing ever-rising anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia," the UN secretary general said.
He cited the March 15 New Zealand mosque attacks by a white supremacist as well as a 2018 synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh that killed 11 people and is believed to be the deadliest against Jews in US history.
Guterres warned of a surge in hate speech he said was "entering the mainstream, spreading like wildfire through social media".
"We see it spreading in liberal democracies and as well as in authoritarian states."
Guterres is on a two-day trip to Egypt. Following his visit to Al-Azhar, he was scheduled to meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Meanwhile, new legislation to tighten New Zealand gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings drew overwhelming support when it was introduced to parliament yesterday.
Lawmakers voted 119-1 in favour of the bill, which bans military-style semi-automatic (MSSA) rifles like those used in the March 15 rampage by a white supremacist which claimed 50 lives.
Police Minister Stuart Nash said the attack by accused gunman Brenton Tarrant showed current firearms restrictions were inadequate.
"Far too many people in this country have access to these dangerous firearms for no legitimate purpose, but at significant risk to the public," he said.
New Zealand has about 1.5 million privately owned firearms, or 0.3 per person, including an estimated 13,500 MSSAs.
The government has also said it will review laws dealing with hate speech.