UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sided with Israel and the United States in criticising comments by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan equating Zionism to crimes against humanity.
Erdogan told the UN Alliance of Civilisations meeting in Vienna on Wednesday: “Just as with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it has become necessary to view Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.” The event was devoted to promoting dialogue between Islam and the West.
UN chiefs usually try to stay away from controversies, but Ban Ki-moon chose to issue a sharp statement, through his spokesman, against the views expressed by the Turkish leader. “The secretary-general believes it is unfortunate that such hurtful and divisive comments were uttered at a meeting being held under the theme of responsible leadership,” the statement said.
Ban comments followed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strong condemnation of Erdogan’s comments, calling them a ”dark and mendacious statement the likes of which we thought had passed from the world.”
In Washington, US National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor said the characterisation about Zionism was ‘offensive and wrong’.
”We encourage people of all faiths, cultures and ideas to denounce hateful actions and to overcome the differences of our times,” he said.
Turkey is a co-sponsor, along with Spain, of the UN initiative to promote tolerance and understanding between various religions and the UN chief’s statement said: ”If the comment about Zionism was interpreted correctly, then it was not only wrong but contradicts the very principles on which the Alliance of Civilisations is based.”
In 1975, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), “determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. Under intense US pressure, the resolution was revoked in 1991 by UN General Assembly Resolution 4686.