With anti-Muslim hate crimes and bigotry on the rise, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said communities that look different become easy scapegoats in times of insecurity and asserted that "discrimination diminishes us all".
"In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats. We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbours as 'the other'," Guterres said, in a video message to a high-level event on combating anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred, in New York on 17 January.
The UN Chief said anti-Muslim hate crimes and other forms of bigotry are on the rise as are xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism.
"Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people and societies from achieving their full potential," he said.
He made a strong appeal for people to draw strength from the values of inclusion, tolerance and mutual understanding.
Quoting from the Holy Quran, Guterres said people everywhere need to feel that their cultural identities are valued.
The high-level event was organised by the Permanent Missions of Canada and the US to the UN and the Delegation of the European Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Guterres also highlighted the Organisation's Together campaign, an effort to promote respect, safety and dignity for all.
"Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope," he said.