UN chief meets New Zealand mosques shooting victims

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Wellington: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the world body will lead efforts to extinguish the online hate speech problem spreading like wildfire.

Guterres warned that hate speech was spreading online “like wildfire” at a meeting with victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings on Tuesday.

He visited the Al Noor mosque, one of two Muslim centres in the New Zealand city where a self-described white supremacist killed 51 people in a March 15. The attacker live-streamed the gory incident on Facebook.

The UN chief is travelling the South Pacific to highlight the impact of climate change but said he also wanted to show his support for Christchurch’s Muslim community during Ramadan.

He told victims of the worst mass shooting in modern New Zealand history that there had been “a dangerous upsurge in hatred” as social media was exploited to promote bigotry.

He highlighted a previously announced plan for his special adviser on genocide prevention Adama Dieng to combat online extremism.

He said Dieng’s mission was to “bring together a United Nations team to scale up our response to hate speech and present a global plan of action”.

His remarks come as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who hosted Guterres when he arrived in Auckland on Sunday, embarks on her own quest to tame social media in Paris this week.

 

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