(CNSNews.com) – “The U.N. is grotesque,” tweeted controversial Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders this week after the world body’s top human rights official lashed out at him, Donald Trump, and a handful of populist right-wing politicians in Europe.
“Let’s get rid of these bureaucrats,” added Wilders, in reference to U.N. human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
For the second time in five months, Zeid publicly slammed Trump, this time in a speech in which he lumped the Republican presidential candidate with Wilders and populist European leaders, accusing them of sharing some tactics with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh).
“Demagogues and political fantasists,” was the U.N. official’s description for his targets in an address delivered at a security conference in The Hague on Monday.
Like ISIS, Zeid said, these leaders all peddle the notion of returning to a fictional, “supposedly perfect past.”
“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.”
(In similar vein, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski in a speech in Algeria Wednesday called ISIS dangerous “because of the reaction it sometimes produces in free societies, where populist demagogues propagate a message that is in some ways the mirror image of the ideology of Daesh – blaming minority groups and migrants for their nations’ problems, selling the illusion that a return to an imagined past of racial purity will bring safety, rejecting the liberal values that stand between them and power.”)
Given the setting of his speech, Zeid focused first on Wilders, then widened his aim to include Trump, Czech President Milos Zeman, the prime ministers of Slovakia (Robert Fico) and Hungary (Viktor Orban), United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen, and Austrian presidential candidate Norbert Hofer.
The European politicians he listed tend to be euroskeptic, leery of Islam and multiculturalism, and tough on migration.
Zeid, a Jordanian diplomat who became U.N. human rights commissioner in Sept. 2014, said these “nationalist demagogues,” like ISIS, use half-truths and over-simplifications.
“The formula is therefore simple: make people, already nervous, feel terrible, and then emphasize it’s all because of a group, lying within, foreign and menacing. Then make your target audience feel good by offering up what is a fantasy to them, but a horrendous injustice to others. Inflame and quench, repeat many times over, until anxiety has been hardened into hatred.”
Zeid conceded that the actions of the men and women he targeted should not be equated with the “monstrous, sickening” actions of ISIS, which “must be brought to justice.”
“But in its mode of communication, its use of half-truths and oversimplification, the propaganda of Daesh [ISIS] uses tactics similar to those of the populists,” he said. “And both sides of this equation benefit from each other – indeed would not expand in influence without each other’s actions.”
He called on the world to speak out and reject such leaders.
Zeid’s primary target was Wilders, whose Party for Freedom (PVV) has been leading opinion polls in the Netherlands for the past year, although support has ebbed more recently.
Wilders made waves almost a decade ago with a documentary in support of his contention that the Qur’an inspires “intolerance, murder and terror.”
His country’s next general election is due to be held by next March, and Wilders in a provocative campaign manifesto has pledged to shutter refugee centers, close mosques and ban the Qur’an. Zeid in his speech described the manifesto as “grotesque.”
The Dutch lawmaker borrowed the word in his contemptuous response to Zeid’s remarks.
“The U.N. is grotesque,” he tweeted. “Let’s get rid of these bureaucrats.”
In a subsequent comment, Wilders called the remarks “another good reason to get rid of the U.N.”
In other response to the speech, a spokesman for the Czech president accused Zeid of interfering in the sovereign affairs of countries, including the United States.
“It is necessary to realize that it actually amounts to an attempt to interfere in the free elections in the USA,” the Czech CTK news agency quoted spokesman Jiri Ovcacek as saying.
“No commissioner will dictate to our country,” said Ovcacek, accusing Zeid of using his position and statements “to make individual European countries accept illegal migrants.”
Last April, Zeid delivered a speech in Cleveland, Ohio criticizing Trump – although on that occasion without naming him – and a U.S. election campaign which he said was characterized by “bigotry” and the “demonizing” of minorities.