Syria says “foreign occupation” on par with racism at Durban II

Speaking at the high-level segment of the Durban Review Conference today, Syrian Foreign Minister Dr. Faysal Mekdad said that the purpose of Durban II is to address “racism, discrimination, foreign occupation, and intolerance.” The actual stated goal of the conference is to review implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration against “racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.”

In raising “foreign occupation” as a key agenda item of the conference, Syria was attempting to draw attention to its political conflict with Israel over the Syrian Golan, and also to raise the Palestinian issue.

The minister went on to accuse Israel of perpetrating ethnic cleansing since 1948, Judea-ifing Israel, and threatening to “throw the Palestinians into the sea” (an interesting twist on the Hamas/Hezbollah call to throw the Jews into the sea). He decried Israel’s law granting the right of return and citizenship to Jews as discrimination.

Mekdad also claimed that Syria’s laws hold accountable and punish all acts of racism. He then deplored the “misrepresentation of religious symbols” and said that discrimination against Muslims has reached “unacceptable levels.”

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