Politics

Neo-Nazism and Islamophobia among the 'gravest threats' facing the world, Freeland tells UN

White supremacism and Islamophobia are among "the gravest threats" facing the world, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told the United Nations Thursday.

'We cannot hide behind euphemisms that distract from the truth,' minister says

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland: "This is ultimately an international problem, and we need to act collectively to address it." (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

White supremacism and Islamophobia are among "the gravest threats" facing the world, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told the United Nations Thursday.

A white supremacist's March 15 terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which claimed the lives of 50 worshippers, was a painful reminder to Canadians of the deaths of six people in another terrorist attack on a Quebec City mosque two years ago, Freeland said before a UN Security Council debate on terrorism.

"Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, 'incels,' nativists and radical anti-globalists who resort to violent acts are a threat to the stability of my country and countries around the world," Freeland said.

No time for euphemisms

These attacks need to be at the top of the global agenda during discussions on confronting global terrorism, Freeland added.

And when such attacks do occur, the international community must not be afraid to condemn them specifically as racist acts of terrorism, Freeland said.

"We cannot hide behind euphemisms that distract from the truth," she said. "In fact, doing so puts our citizens, especially those from religious minorities and racialized communities, in greater danger."

In the wake of acts of terrorism carried out by Muslims, Western countries often call upon Muslim countries and Muslim leaders to condemn those attacks in the name of their people and their faith, she said.

"It should follow that, as the foreign minister of a majority-white and majority-Christian country, I feel a specific and personal responsibility to denounce white supremacist attacks in the same way," Freeland said.

Collective effort

While hate is eternal, the way it spreads changes over time, she added.

The international community must keep a close watch on how hateful messages spread through online forums and social media, Freeland said.

This work cannot be undertaken in isolation, she added.

"Each of our countries will, of course, address this issue in different ways, but we need to recognize that this is ultimately an international problem, and we need to act collectively to address it," Freeland said.

"The Internet and social media know no borders and so we must work together to find ways to address online radicalization."

'We are family'

Freeland also took the opportunity to offer Canada's support and compassion to the people of New Zealand.

"As fellow members of the Commonwealth, Canada and New Zealand have a close relationship. We are more than friends, we are family, and Canadians felt great compassion and real pain following the terrible attacks in Christchurch," Freeland said.

"In particular, I'd like to salute the moral leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has distinguished herself not only to the people of New Zealand, but to the whole world."

Canada contributes $15M to boost number of female peacekeepers

Later in the day, Freeland announced that Canada will contribute $15 million to the launch of the Elsie Initiative Fund for Uniformed Women in Peace Operations.

The initiative was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November of 2017 during the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The goal of the pilot project is overcome barriers to the increased participation of women in peace operations.

The Elsie Initiative Fund will offer countries that contribute troops and police to the UN, as well as UN organizations, funding to support the deployment of trained and qualified uniformed women, Freeland said.

"One central challenge for peacekeeping in the 21st century is the absence of women, whether as police officers, soldiers or leaders," Freeland said in a statement.

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