My first instinct was to check the date: was it actually April 1st on Monday? On realising there was no mistake the second reaction was one of wonderment that anyone still takes the United Nations seriously.
The once respected organisation held its Universal Periodic Review in Geneva on Monday, and France didn’t fare well.
Beacons of liberty lined up to trash the Republic for what they described as the heavy-handedness of its police in recent weeks. Russia, Iran, Venezuela and China expressed their grave anxiety about state repression. ‘We are concerned about the harsh and sometimes violent measures aimed at dispersing peaceful citizens,’ intoned Kristina Sukacheva, Russia’s representative on the UN Human Rights Council.
Tunisia also weighed in, lecturing France on its need to end racial violence and discrimination. This from the country whose president in March launched a tirade against Sub-Saharan immigrants, accusing them of ‘violence, crime and unacceptable practices’, and of attempting to turn Tunisia into ‘just another African country that doesn’t belong to the Arab and Islamic nations anymore.’
America’s Deputy Permanent Representative on the Human Rights Council, Kelly Billingsley, a graduate of the London School of Economics, told France to ‘expand efforts to counter crimes and threats of violence motivated by religious hatred such as anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hate’.
Ms Billingsley’s ignorance does her a disservice. She neglected to mention the most persecuted religion in France: Christianity. In 2016 an elderly priest was murdered as he took Mass in his Normandy church and in 2020 three worshippers were butchered to death in Nice. Islamists carried out both attacks. The latest figures for religious-motivated crimes in France disclosed that in 2021 there were a total of 1,659 such acts: 857 classified as anti-Christian, 589 anti-Semitic and 213 anti-Muslim.