The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 5 October 2023.
UK Statement on religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. Delivered by UK’s Ambassador to the WTO & UN, Simon Manley.
High Commissioner – thank you for your update.
Religious intolerance divides societies. It rips communities apart. There is no place for hatred including the burning of the Quran we saw earlier this year. Indeed – we must address all manifestations of religious intolerance wherever they occur. Whether that be:
- Rohingya in Myanmar: (where) huge numbers were killed and driven from their country because of their religion.
- Uyghurs and Tibetans in China who see their religious sites destroyed; their cultural practices denied;
- Or the Baha’is in Iran: harassed, prosecuted and imprisoned for their faith.
All these situations, and more – must be part of this debate.
High Commissioner, as you have said – the right to freedom of expression can only be limited under clear and narrowly defined parameters. Sometimes this will cause offence. But causing offence does not necessarily equate to inciting violence or hatred. Blasphemy laws that carry the death penalty clearly do not fall under permissible restrictions.
Implementing HRC resolution 16/18 remains the most effective way to combat religious intolerance. This framework is consensual. It is action-orientated. And, most importantly it has led to positive change. We must reunite around this approach so that, working together, not divided, we can overcome hatred together.