UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for “full respect for all religions” in the aftermath of the killing of a Hindu man in Rajasthan’s Udaipur.
“We call for the full respect for all religions and for ensuring throughout the world that different communities can live in harmony and peace,” his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in reply to a question about “the resurgence of religious tensions” in India and Tuesday’s killing on Kanhayia Lal, reportedly over a social media comment.
Asked on Tuesday about the arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair, who is charged with hurting religious sentiments, Dujarric had said: “In any place around the world, it is very important that people be allowed to express themselves freely, journalists be allowed to express themselves freely and without the threat of any harassment.”
He was asked on Wednesday to clarify if that applied to journalists’ comments about all religions and if it squared with the call for respecting all religions.
“We believe in the fundamental right of expression, of journalists to express themselves, and we also believe in the fundamental need for people to respect other communities and other religions,” he said.
“We believe those two statements are very much compatible,” he added.
Answering another question on the freedom of the media, he said: “Freedom of the press is freedom of the press, and it applies, for us, universally around the world, in 193 Member States. And those principles remain unchanged and unbowed.”
That question was regarding a video statement at the Security Council on Tuesday by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that journalists who “justified the actions of the Russian Army” would be punished.
Kanhaiya Lal was killed reportedly because of a social media post supporting Nupur Sharma, the suspended BJP spokesperson who had allegedly made comments considered by Muslims as derogatory to their prophet.
Two persons, who allegedly posted a video claiming responsibility for the killing, have been arrested.
Nupur Sharma also faces the same charges as Zubair of hurting religious sentiments, although concerning different faiths.
India has repeatedly criticised what it said were double standards in reacting to “religiophobia”.
In the most recent statement on the subject, India’s Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti told the General Assembly last week, “It’s time that UN member states condemned hatred against non-Abrahamic religions as well and stop from being selective in combating religiophobias.”