The 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously adopted, on July 25 in New York, a resolution submitted by Morocco against hate speech and the desecration of the Holy Quran.
This resolution “strongly deplores all acts of violence targeting people because of their religion or beliefs, and all those violent acts targeting religious symbols and Holy Books, considering them a violation of international law.”
The adoption by consensus of this historic and extremely important resolution comes in a context marked by the exponential exacerbation of hate speech in all its forms and dimensions.
Submitted by Morocco, this resolution testifies to the respect and esteem that the Kingdom enjoys as a regional and global leader in promoting peace, tolerance, and inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, and reflects the leading role that Morocco plays in the United Nations (UN) per the High Directives and the Enlightened, Humanist Vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI.
During the presentation of this resolution to the General Assembly, Morocco’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, recalled that this new resolution is a follow-up of the historic General Assembly resolution (73/328), the first of its kind on hate speech, which was adopted in 2019, as well as the subsequent resolution (75/309) that proclaimed, in 2021, June 18 as “International Day for Countering Hate Speech.”
Hilale emphasized that the adoption of this resolution is part of the avant-garde, supportive, and humanist vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, to counter the danger of hate speech expressed by violent extremism, obscurantism, populism, and racism of all kinds.
In this regard, Hilale recalled the Royal message addressed to participants in the 9th World Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), held in Fez in November 2022, in which the Sovereign warned that “never has our civilization been so exposed, never has coexistence been so threatened on a daily basis, and rarely has the Other been so associated with suspicion or used to stir up fear and foment hatred.”
Hilale further quoted His Majesty’s message, which underlined that “extremism saturates debate and undermines moderate discourse, as religions are all too often exploited, when they are not stigmatized, and populism agitates societies by inventing unanswered questions, brandishing migration as a scarecrow in electoral contexts, and objectifying migrants as scapegoats.”
The Moroccan diplomat also noted that, to tackle these multiple dangers, the Sovereign has called for a policy of world solidarity, adding that in the Royal Message to the Parliamentary Conference held in Marrakech in June, His Majesty the King stated that “the bleak picture reflected by the conflict of beliefs in the world today should not obscure the positive and bright aspects, nor the bold initiatives launched to strengthen communication and consolidate values rooted in tolerance, understanding, and coexistence between the members of the international community, and between followers of different faiths.”
In a similar context, the Moroccan diplomat stressed that this new resolution aims to reinforce the collective commitment to promoting a culture of peace and non-violence for the good of humanity and future generations, underlining that this priority is even more pressing given that recent months have been marked by an alarming rise in hateful and offensive acts in Europe against the beliefs of over a billion Muslims.
The Moroccan ambassador affirmed that such acts are not freedom of expression but hateful manifestations targeting a particular religion and ethnicity, noting a blatant disrespect for religious minorities in the countries these acts took place.
The Moroccan diplomat also stressed that the resolution records with deep concern the increasing number of cases of discrimination, intolerance, and violence targeting members of several religious communities, including cases motivated by Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and Christianophobia, as well as acts of violence against people belonging to religious minorities.
In his introduction of the Moroccan resolution, Hilale outlined three concrete actions of multilateral commitment to combat hate speech, namely developing an inter-governmentally agreed definition of hate speech that can help combat it, in line with international law, convening a world conference on combating hate speech in 2025, and calling on member states and social media to support active systems to combat hate speech and prevent its increasing spread and to promote user access to effective reporting mechanisms, in line with international human rights law.
The adoption of this resolution was also marked by an attempt by the European Union (EU) to suppress the reference to the violation of international law when acts of violence are directed against religious symbols and holy books, which would have weakened the resolution. However, thanks to Morocco’s insistence and leadership, the European amendment was rejected by a large majority, leading the European Union (EU) to join the consensus on the resolution as a whole.