Paris Attacks: “Crime Against Humanity, Crime Against Culture”

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parisPhoto : Thomas Bourdeau/RFI

It’s an overwhelming sadness to hear about the targeted attacks that put again Paris, a famous travel destination, a city of beauty, history, culture, arts, on the map of global terrorism. It’s not only the physical act of the attacks,  but also the psychological impact it has on entire society for many years after.

Our thoughts are with the people of France at this terrible time, UWE Board share compassion with victims and their families, we stand united with them.

“Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite”

Hereby you can read essential words of the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, Ms. Karima Bennoune, denouncing in the strongest possible terms the 13 November terrorist attacks in Paris.

“These attacks may constitute a crime against humanity and certainly one which viciously and deliberately targeted sites of arts and leisure where people come together to enjoy their cultural rights…the language used in the reported claim of responsibility for the 13 November attacks by the so-called ‘Islamic State’, labeling the rock fans at Bataclan as ‘pagans’ and the city of Paris as the ‘capital of prostitution and vice’ demonstrates the hateful worldview motivating this violence,” Ms. Bennoune stressed.

For the human rights expert, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Great) when beginning the Bataclan massacre, as has been reported, “grossly misuses a religious pronouncement sacred to hundreds of millions of Muslim believers around the world who abhor such bloodshed, and increases the likelihood of hate and discrimination against them in response,” she said.

Ms. Bennoune expressed her “total compassion” for the victims and their families echoing the words of the rector of the Grand Mosque in Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, and noted his call for national unity in the face of this terrible ordeal. “International unity will likewise be critical in responding to such threats to culture and to those coming together to make and share it,” Ms. Bennoune added.

“I extend my solidarity and condolences to the people of Paris and hope they will soon experience a return to security as well as to an environment in which they can fully enjoy their rights and freedoms,” she said. The expert also called on the international community to urgently take all steps needed to assist French authorities in ensuring that any perpetrators still at large are brought to justice in accordance with international law.

“We must all cooperate to protect those around the world who face similar attacks from such gangs of death simply for participating in cultural life,” she noted.

Ms. Bennoune appealed to civil society around the world “to unite in exposing and opposing the fundamentalist ideology motivating such atrocities, as many have done in Muslim majority countries for years, and to support those resisting such fundamentalist assaults on cultural life on the frontlines from West Africa to South Asia and beyond.”

The Special Rapporteur also expressed her deep personal concern about other recent terrorist attacks such as that in Beirut on 12 November or the crash of the Russian plane in Egypt last month, which raise grave human rights issues largely beyond the scope of her mandate.

“I would like to emphasize the global equality of victims and the unavoidably international nature of the struggle against those who seek to deliberately kill civilians and culture itself, and above all to divide the human family,” she concluded.


Karima Bennoune was appointed UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in October 2015. She grew up in Algeria and the United States. She is Professor of Law and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall Research Scholar at the University of California-Davis School of Law where she teaches courses on human rights and international law. Ms. Bennoune has worked in the field of human rights for more than 20.

Website of the UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights


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