On a visit to Saudi Arabia Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters that “Islamophobia” is fueling terrorism.
“One of the things that fuel terrorism is the expression in some parts of the world of Islamophobic feelings and Islamophobic policies and Islamophobic hate speeches,” Guterres said at a joint news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, according to a report from The Times of Israel.
“This is sometimes the best support that Daesh can have to make its own propaganda,” Guterres added.
Guterres made the comments after meeting with Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Anti-immigration fervor has grown in Europe with the influx of refugees, many of them Muslims fleeing wars in Syria and elsewhere. This has led to a rise in popularity of politicians such as France’s Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front Party, who is a harsh critic of France's immigration policies and is in the running to be president of France.
President Donald Trump has also been a critic of what he sees as lax immigration policies in the U.S., issuing a travel ban blocking travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. That order is currently being challenged in federal court.
According to the Times of Israel, Syria has produced 4.8 million refugees. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Thursday that terrorists are "definitely" a part of the general refugee population.
Syria’s conflict, in addition to displacing nearly five million people, has led to the deaths of more than 310,000 people since it began in March 2011.
Guterres said Sunday “we will never be successful in fighting terrorism in Syria if an inclusive political solution is not found for the Syrian people.”
UN-sponsored peace talks will be held February 20 in Geneva.