The UN’s human rights chief has launched a scathing attack on Western populist politicians, branding them “demagogues and political fantasists”.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein singled out Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, saying he used bigotry as a political weapon.
He said he and others, including US Republican Donald Trump and Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, used the same tactics as so-called Islamic State.
Mr Hussein was addressing a security seminar in The Hague.
In a election manifesto published last month, Mr Wilders said that if elected he would shut all mosques and ban the Koran and Muslim immigrants.
His Freedom Party (PVV) is leading opinion polls in the Netherlands before the 2017 election.
Last month Mr Wilders also addressed the US Republican Party National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Mr
Trump’s campaign has been marked by hardline rhetoric on immigration and social dilemmas.
Mr Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the inauguration of the Peace, Justice and Security Foundation, that he wanted to address his statement to “Geert Wilders, his acolytes, really to all those like him – the populists, demagogues and political fantasists”.
“I am a Muslim, who is, confusingly to racists, also white-skinned; whose mother is European and dad, Arab. And I’m angry, too, because of Mr Wilders’ lies and half-truths, manipulations and peddling of fear,” Mr Hussein said.
“All seek in varying degrees to regain a past, halcyon and so pure in form, where sunlit fields are settled by individuals united by ethnicity or religion. A past that most surely, in reality, failed to exist anywhere, ever.”
He added: “Make no mistake, I definitely don’t equate the activities of nationalist demagogues with those of Daesh (IS). But in its style of communication, its use of half truths and oversimplification, the propaganda of Daesh uses strategies similar to those of the populists.”
Mr Hussein said the “humiliating racial and religious bias fanned by the likes of Mr Wilders” had become official policy in some states.
“We learn of quickening discrimination in workplaces. Children are being shamed and shunned because of their ethnic and religious origins – whatever their passports, they have been told they’re not “actually”
European, not “actually” French, or British, or Hungarian. Whole communities are being smeared with feeling of collusion with terrorists,” he said.
Mr Hussein warned that the atmosphere “thick with hate” could quickly descend into “colossal violence”.
“A decade ago, Geert Wilders’ manifesto and Cleveland address would have created a worldwide furore. Now?
Now, they can be met with little more than a shrug, and, outside the Netherlands, his words and pernicious strategies were hardly detected,” he said.
“Are we going to continue to stand by and observe this banalisation of bigotry, until it reaches its logical conclusion?”
In March, Geert Wilders appeared in court charged with inciting hatred against Moroccans.
His full trial is expected to start on 31 October.