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The United Nations human rights chief has told a security conference in The Hague that politicians such as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage use the same tactics as the so-called Islamic State.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, trained his initial attack on the Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, accusing him of using bigotry as a political weapon. Wilders said last month that if elected he would close all mosques and ban the Quran and Muslim immigrants.
During his speech, al-Hussein accused a number of global politicians of employing the same tactics as ISIS.
"What Mr. Wilders shares in common with Mr. Trump, Mr. (Viktor) Orban, Mr. (Milos) Zeman, Mr. (Nobert) Hofer, Mr. (Robert) Fico, Madame (Marine) Le Pen, Mr. Farage, he also shares with Da'esh (ISIS)," he said Monday.
He added a qualification to the comparison: "Make no mistake; I certainly do not equate the actions of nationalist demagogues with those of Daesh (ISIS). 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."
The UN commissioner, who is a Muslim, said the aim of propaganda tools used by populist leaders is to provide a false vision of the future as well as a fictional history.
"All seek in varying degrees to recover a past, halcyon and so pure in form, where sunlit fields are settled by peoples united by ethnicity or religion – living peacefully in isolation, pilots of their fate, free of crime, foreign influence and war," he said.
"A past that most certainly, in reality, did not exist anywhere, ever," added al-Hussein.
He also warned in the speech that if politicians are allowed to express xenophobia and bigotry without fear of rebuke then communities will become "fearful" and "hostile".
"The atmosphere will become thick with hate; at this point it can descend rapidly into colossal violence," the UN human rights chief said to his audience.