United Nations rights chief decries Trump's 'demonization' of media

Iraqi flags fly at the recently opened Iraqi Trebil border crossing on the Iraq Jordan border on Aug. 30 2017. Iraq closed the crossing in 2015 after large areas including the Anbar border province fell to the Islamic State extremist group. The militan

The United Nations' top human rights official says derogatory remarks by US President Donald Trump about journalists could amount to incitement and embolden followers to attack certain communities.

He lashed out last week over coverage of his reaction to the Charlottesville rally earlier this month, where a woman was killed and at least 19 were injured after a vehicle drove into counter-protesters.

"It's sort of a stunning turnaround".

"It's a sort of stunning turnaround, and ultimately the sequences are unsafe one: incitement and fear, self-censorship, banning and then violence", he added.

At a campaign-style rally last week in Phoenix, Trump said journalists are "truly dishonest people" for criticizing his reaction to the violence.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein also made his first public comments decrying racist and anti-Semitic cries by far-right groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, calling the events on its streets "an abomination" and "a nightmare".


"To call these news organisations fake does tremendous damage", al-Hussein added.

"The demonization of the press is poisonous because it has consequences elsewhere", he opined.

Zeid, comparing the leadership role of a USA president to a bus driver, said: "I nearly feel that the President is driving the bus of humanity and we're careening down a mountain path".

Zeid voiced deep concern at Trump's pardon of Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt in a racial profiling case that highlighted tensions over immigration policy.

Trump's rhetoric is starting to have repercussions outside the US, Zeid said.

"And in taking these measures, at least from a human rights perspective, it seems to be reckless driving".

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