Statement by Turkey at the General Assembly on “Combatting Antisemitism and Other Forms of Racism and Hate - The Challenges of Teaching Tolerance and Respect in the Digital Age"

Bilge Koçyiğit Grba 26.06.2019
“Combatting Antisemitism and Other Forms of Racism and Hate - The Challenges of Teaching Tolerance and Respect in the Digital Age"
26 June 2019

Madam President,

At the outset, I would like to thank you for organizing this informal meeting on an issue of growing concern for all of us, particularly as part of a broader trend.

We are deeply concerned with the rise in antisemitism and other forms of racism and hate, and condemn all of these acts in the strongest terms.

Turkey firmly upholds the principle that all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights; that any doctrine or practice of racial superiority is legally and morally unacceptable and cannot be justified on any ground.

Madam President,

Throughout history, Turkey has proved its determination to fight against antisemitism and has been a safe haven for Jews expelled from Europe starting in the early 14th century.

Antisemitism was not able to take root in our territory and political culture including during the horrors of the Second World War.

In fact, Turkish diplomats serving in Europe at that time, a group of close to 20 Turkish Ambassadors and Consuls, helped hundreds of Jews escape deportation during this tragedy and managed to transport them to Turkey via rescue trains.

Turkey was among the co-sponsors of the resolution of the UN General Assembly in 2005, designating 27 January as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Since 2011, holocaust victims are commemorated on 27th of January in Turkey with the participation of high-level officials, Jewish community of Turkey, academia and civil society.

Also since 2008, Turkey has been participating in the meetings and activities of the “International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)”.

Madam President,

I would like to stress that the rise in anti-Semitism is part of a broader phenomenon.

We have been witnessing the growing manifestations of contemporary trends, which translate into new forms of racism, such as xenophobia, Islamophobia, Christianophobia and anti-migrant sentiments.

Regrettably, the misuse of new technologies and social platforms contribute to the proliferation of racist and xenophobic content that incites racial hatred and violence.

Extremist groups and movements, particularly far-right movements, use the Internet and social media networks also as a recruitment platform for potential new members.

Combating the use of the Internet and social media to propagate racial, ethnic and xenophobic content requires a multi stakeholder approach. The role of the private sector, in particular Internet service providers and social media platforms is crucial.

At the same time, it is important to strike the right balance between a determined fight against hate speech online and preserving freedom of speech.

Madam President,

Education plays a fundamental role in combating racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. By promoting the principles of tolerance and respect for diversity, education can prevent the proliferation of extremist movements and propaganda.

In that sense, we can utilize the unique educational potential of the Internet and social media networks to combat manifestations of these menaces in cyberspace.

It is important to educate and empower the end users, particularly the young generation to help develop a critical approach to the coverage on the Internet.

“Media and Information Literacy” initiative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, which aims to promote media awareness and develop Internet literacy to combat misperceptions, prejudices and hate speech, is a good example to that end.

Madam President,

We know that we face a complex and multifaceted challenge against us. Only with strong international cooperation and commitment can we have success in our fight against antisemitism and any other form of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Thank you.