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UN human rights chief calls out Trump over anti-Muslim retweets

The United Nations' top human rights official was "aghast" over President Donald Trump's decision to ...

Posted: Dec 8, 2017 12:28 AM
Updated: Dec 8, 2017 12:28 AM

The United Nations' top human rights official was "aghast" over President Donald Trump's decision to re-tweet anti-Muslim videos from the far-right ultra nationalist group Britain First last week, offering a robust rebuke of nationalist and populist leaders.

"It seemed to be so foolish," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told CNN's Elise Labott during a Capitol Hill roundtable discussion for the UN Foundation. "Or it seemed to be driven by a sense of purpose."

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called Trumps retweet "foolish"

He also condemned nationalism and populism more broadly

"And why take us to a place where what can accrue from this is immense violence?" he asked. "We've been there before."

Al Hussein also condemned nationalism and populism more broadly, saying the international human rights framework, put in place after World War II and the Holocaust, "is under immense stress at the moment" from authoritarian leaders and terrorist groups, but also populist politicians in the west. He derided an increasingly popular school of thought in the western world that suggests human rights efforts have been ineffective and should therefore be tossed aside.

The commissioner -- a former Jordanian ambassador to the United States and United Nations, who has been vocal in calling out abuses in the Middle East as well as other regions of the world -- pointed out tens of millions of people died in two world wars and the Holocaust before the international community came together to develop the Human Rights Declaration, and suggested the world is at risk of returning to the nation-centric dynamic of the early 20th century that allowed that violence to happen.

"This is now a bare-knuckled fight for rights," he said. "This is not an exchange of pleasantries."

"If people don't know what their rights are and are not defending the rights of others, it can all slip away all too quickly," he added, "and we see that in many parts of the world."

Al Hussein also said he sees a "mean-spiritedness" in some of the restrictive border control and refugee admissions policies in western countries like the United States.

"Do we want a world where there's a meanness?" he asked. "A mean-spiritedness?

In his remarks, Al Hussein also criticized a host of world leaders for failing to do more to address the crisis in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state, where more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have been chased from their homes.

In September, Al Hussein said the conflict was a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing." It's a characterization that was ultimately endorsed by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said last month that the violence in Rakhine, "meets all the criteria of ethnic cleansing" and "has a number of characteristics of crimes against humanity."

On Thursday, he reiterated his disappointment in civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's tepid and untimely response to the violence, but also singled out world leaders, including Pope Francis, for their failure to identify Rohingya Muslims as the specific targets of the violence.

"I believe his holiness the Pope is a courageous man, he's a courageous leader, and he's proven himself to be that," he said. "But I was disappointed that he didn't use the word Rohingya (in his remarks in Myanmar).'"

He said he worried the crisis could spiral further out of control and could draw extremists if not addressed sharply and quickly by the international community, and said ultimately a court will need to decide whether the violence was pre-planned, which could qualify the attacks as genocide.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein was speaking at a roundtable for the UN Foundation.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 3238
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Jasper67717
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Jefferson Davis40011
Webster37013
Wilkinson33520
Benton3255
Kemper32015
Sharkey28014
Jefferson27410
Franklin2373
Choctaw2046
Issaquena1074
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22861374
Mobile14468314
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Montgomery9875196
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Lee649665
Baldwin647569
Marshall433049
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Franklin202131
Colbert196731
Russell19233
Blount189325
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Chilton184132
Escambia171929
Coffee171710
Covington169929
Dale165451
Chambers133643
Pike132313
Tallapoosa130587
Clarke130017
Marion106229
Butler100140
Barbour9979
Marengo99222
Winston91313
Geneva8527
Pickens82417
Lawrence82131
Randolph81216
Bibb81114
Hale74930
Clay72912
Cherokee72614
Lowndes70328
Monroe64010
Henry6396
Bullock63717
Washington63412
Crenshaw60230
Perry5836
Wilcox56212
Fayette56113
Conecuh55713
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Sumter47021
Lamar4665
Choctaw38812
Greene34216
Coosa2023
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