Senior UN official strongly condemns Southern California synagogue attack

The top official for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) has strongly condemned the attack Saturday on a synagogue in Southern California, denouncing the deadly incident as a hate crime targeting Sabbath worshipers on the last day of Passover.

According to news reports, on Saturday, a gunman armed with a semiautomatic rifle entered a synagogue in Poway, California, some 40 kilometres north of San Diego, yelling anti-Semitic slurs, and opened fire. The attack left one woman dead, the rabbi and two others wounded.

This incident comes in the wake of a series of attacks against mosques, synagogues and other places of worship in the past months, including the Easter Sunday suicide bombings targeting churches in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250 people. Last month, dozens of worshippers were gunned down at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In a statement, UNAOC High Representative Miguel Moratinos reiterated that such cowardly attacks are  not confined to one religion, country or ethnicity.

Mr. Moratinos also stressed that this spate of violence against houses of worship targeting innocent and peaceful citizens “should not obstruct our efforts to combat hatred, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination.”

He vowed to continue to work on developing his Plan of Action for safeguarding religious sites to guarantee that worshipers can observe their rituals in a spirit of peace and compassion.

On behalf of UNAOC, the High Representative expressed his deepest condolences to the family of the victim and wishes those who were injured a speedy recovery.

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations was established in 2005, as the political initiative of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and co-sponsored by the Governments of Spain and Turkey. A High-Level Group of experts was formed to explore the roots of polarization between societies and cultures, and to recommend a practical programme of action to address the issue.

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