UN human rights chief says Trump is fanning racial and religious prejudice with tactics similar to ISIS

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein gestures during an interview on Aug 10, 2016.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein gestures during an interview on Aug 10, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The United Nations human rights chief on Monday (Sept 6) accused United States Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of spreading "humiliating racial and religious prejudice" and warned of a rise of populist politics that could turn violent.

In comments at a security and justice conference, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he was addressing Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders and other "populists, demagogues and political fantasists".

Naming Mr Trump, Mr Nigel Farage in Britain and Ms Marine Le Pen in France, among others, he accused them of using "fear" tactics similar to those of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Daesh. "Make no mistake, I certainly do not equate the actions of nationalist demagogues with those of Daesh," he said. "But in its mode of communication, its use of half-truths and oversimplification, the propaganda of Daesh uses tactics similar to those of the populists."

In a tweet, Mr Wilders called Mr Zeid "an idiot". Mr Zeid labelled Mr Wilders' March 2017 election platform, which calls for no Muslim immigrants, the closing of mosques and the banning of the Quran, as "grotesque".

"The UN is grotesque," Mr Wilders responded. "Let's get rid of these bureaucrats."

But Mr Zeid said Mr Wilders' rhetoric could have terrible consequences.

"History has perhaps taught Mr Wilders and his ilk how effectively xenophobia and bigotry can be weaponised," he said.

"The atmosphere will become thick with hate; at this point it can descend rapidly into colossal violence," he warned.