The Role of Religious Leaders in addressing the multiple challenges of COVID-19
Brief summary of presentation of information made
This informational briefing was held because it was felt by Mission States that the Religious Community needed to be include in the response to this pandemic.
Comments were heard from the Secretary General of the United Nations – H. E. Antonio Guterres, H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the UN General Assembly and Ambassador Mona Juul of the Mission of Norway.
Statement from the Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco - H.E. Omar Hilale
The role of Religious Leaders is particularly important in preserving human fraternity and making societies more inclusive, cohesive, and united especially in trouble times. Their voices can help raise universal awareness about the multifaceted challenges facing the international community, They can spread messages of hope optimism, and solidarity and have the ability to galvanize international consciousness and collective responsibility not only to fight this pandemic, but also to emerge stronger in the post-COVID era.
Statement from H.E. Antonio Guterres – Secretary General of the United Nations
COVID-19 does not care who we are, where we live, what we believe or about any other distinction. We need every ounce of solidarity to tackle it together. Yet the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering.
Anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have spread, and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred. Migrants and refugees have been vilified as a source of the virus and then denied access to medical treatment. With older persons among the most vulnerable, contemptible memes have emerged suggesting they are also the most expendable. And journalists, whistle-blowers, health professionals, aid workers and human rights defenders are being targeted simply for doing their jobs.
We must act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate. That’s why I’m appealing for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally.
I call on political leaders to show solidarity with all members of their societies and build and reinforce social cohesion.
I call on educational institutions to focus on digital literacy at a time when billions of young people are online and when extremists are seeking to prey on captive and potentially despairing audiences.
I call on the media, especially social media companies, to do much more to flag and, in line with international human rights law, remove racist, misogynist, and other harmful content.
I call on civil society to strengthen outreach to vulnerable people, and religious actors to serve as models of mutual respect.
And I ask everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness.
Last year, the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech was launched to enhance United Nations efforts against this scourge. As we combat this pandemic, we have a duty to protect people, end stigma and prevent violence.
Let’s defeat hate speech – and COVID-19 – together.
Statement from the President of the UN General Assembly H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande
This outbreak has resulted in the spread of stigmatizing and discriminatory actions towards specific groups and communities. We must remember that the threat and enemy is the virus, not the people or countries or their religions.
It is faith-based organizations and religious leaders, equipped with courage and vision, who play a unique role in bringing people together around the universal values of our common humanity.
Oftentimes, they have helped as first responders and counsellors, combatting stigma, providing food assistance, and praying for the world and the policymakers. They are frequently in positions to advocate for social and legal change. Most of them have promoted solidarity within and between communities of faith.
They use their moral authority to advocate for the empowerment of women, access to education and health facilities. They have been models for all of us.
As COVID-19 related restrictions resulted in closing churches, synagogues, and mosques worldwide, many religious leaders have swiftly adapted and are taking faith online. They are actively engaging with youth in developing messages on social media making them effective partners in our common efforts raising awareness about preventative measures among their congregations.
I commend all faith-based organizations and their leadership for their continuous efforts to promote interfaith understanding and peaceful coexistence and issues related to sustainable development and climate action.
This is needed now and in the post-COVID world.
Statement from Ambassador Mona Juul – Mission of Norway
We have seen a worrying trend of increased xenophobia, social stigma and hate speech during this pandemic. Religious leaders have an extremely important job in countering this divisive rhetoric and in uniting people – spreading a message of solidarity and hope, both at the local level, but also on the global stage.
Religious leaders are looked up to for guidance and leadership. When they speak up against intolerance, discrimination, stigmatization, hate speech and violence against minorities, also those in a position of power people listen.
Faith-based organizations are a trusted and important rally in the response to the pandemic. Their work and contributions are vital in the humanitarian and socio-economic response to this crisis.
Religious leaders have an important job when it comes to encouraging people to make the necessary adjustments, we all must make to curb the spread of the virus. They have a platform for communication and enjoy the trust of the community, and with that a great responsibility. We are glad that the world’s religions share the commitment to help
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
Keep doing our Mission Statement and meeting the needs of people without discrimination. Serving God and helping mankind where we can.
Web links for more information
STRATEGY AND PLAN OF ACTION ON HATE SPEECH
Tags: SDG1: No Poverty, SDG4: Quality Education, SDG5: Gender Equality, SDG3: Good Health and Well-Being, SDG2: Zero Hunger