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UN chief says 'biggest terror threat' is white supremacy in West

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says world must be firm in condemning antisemitism, anti-Muslim hatred
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers remarks during the End of Year Press Conference at the UN headquarters in New York City on 19 December 2022.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers remarks during the end-of-year press conference at UN headquarters in New York City, on 19 December 2022 (AFP)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that the "biggest threat of terrorism" is posed by far right-wing and white supremacist groups in the West, following the arrest of 25 people in Germany accused of attempting to overthrow the government.

The UN chief spoke to reporters on Monday during an end-of-year press conference in New York, where he said the case in Germany was just one example of the threat of far right-wing groups to democratic societies around the world.

More Americans worried about domestic extremism than foreign threats: Poll
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"It has been demonstrated that the biggest threat of terrorism today in western countries comes from the extreme right, neo-Nazis and white supremacy,” Guterres said.

Earlier this month, German police arrested 25 suspects during raids across the country that targeted adherents of the Reich Citizens (Reichsbuerger) movement.

Prosecutors accused the suspects of "having made concrete preparations to violently force their way into the German parliament with a small armed group".

Adherents of the Reich Citizens movement reject Germany's postwar constitution and have called for bringing down the government.

Guterres also said that the world must pay attention to the issue of Islamophobia and antisemitism, the former of which rose sharply following the US-led war on terror. A recent report by the Australian-based Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) has found that nearly 86 percent of anti-Muslim posts on social media come from the US, the UK and India.

Over a two-year period, between 28 August 2019 and 27 August 2021, India saw the highest figure, with 871,379 Islamophobic tweets, followed by the US with 289,248, and the UK, with 196,376.

"I think we must be very clear and very firm in condemning every form of neo-Nazism, white supremacists, any form of antisemitism, anti-Muslim hatred,” he said.

Americans worried

Following the 9/11 attacks, the US embarked on a wide-ranging campaign to stop far-right groups both at home and around the world, with much attention directed toward Muslim communities.

During this period, the threat of far-right domestic threats were often downplayed, say experts.

However, according to a report by New America, a think-tank in Washington, far-right domestic groups or individuals with right-wing ideologies killed more people on American soil than any other categorised group since the 9/11 attacks.

And last year, a survey by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that Americans say they are more worried about domestic violence from far-right groups and individuals with right-wing ideologies than threats posed from overseas.

The survey found 65 percent of US respondents were either extremely concerned or very concerned about US-based groups, while 50 percent said the same about militant groups based outside of the country.

The poll was conducted after the 6 January 2021 riots, where supporters of then-outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol amid lax security while Congress was in session.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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