UN anti-racism panel calls on Iran to counter hatred

GENEVA (AFP) – The UN anti-racism panel Friday called on Iran to counter racism and ethnic discrimination, including incitement to hatred by officials and "double discrimination suffered by women from minorities.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern at the exclusion of Arab, Azeri, Balochi, Kurdish and Bahai communities in areas such as housing, education, health, jobs and "from public life".

It also noted the hurdles ethnic minorities faced despite the country's economic growth.

Committee member Dilip Lahiri told journalists the panel felt discrimination against the Bahai community was "quite rampant", despite a debate over whether the issue was a religious one and thus out of the panel's remit.

The panel's 18 experts said they were concerned at "the reports of discrimination in everyday life and statements of racial discrimination and incitement to hatred by government officials."

"While commending efforts undertaken by the state party to empower women, the committee is concerned that women of minority origin may be at risk of facing double discrimination," they also noted.

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