Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today he hoped that Britain, in the face of the current wave of terrorist bombings, would be able to continue its past policy of avoiding racial profiling.
Asked if, in light of the killing of a Brazilian by police after Thursday's abortive attacks on London's transit system, there was now more reason to be concerned if one were black or brown, Mr. Annan noted that London was a very international city.
"I think the United Kingdom Government has been very open, very lenient in its asylum laws and has received many people from around the world," he told reporters on his arrival at UN Headquarters in New York. "But given what has happened, there may be a tendency in some quarters to profile individuals from certain regions, and we saw it here.
"And I hope it doesn't happen there, and that they will go after the criminals, but not generalize to a group of people coming from one region or the other. And I think, from my own experience, I would say that the UK has been able to do that over the years, and I hope it will maintain that policy," he added.
Mr. Annan said that what had happened in the last few weeks from London to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, where a series of bombs killed scores of people on Saturday, "gives us one more reason to press ahead and get a good definition of terrorism that we can all live with.
"As I said, it's not Islamic; it's not whatever. We know them for what they are. And a simple, clear statement, bringing in moral clarity, that maiming and killing of civilians is unacceptable regardless of one's cause, I think, will satisfy all of us," he added.
"We know what we are living with, and I think the whole world is now standing together in the fight against terrorism. And the UN and its General Assembly must lead in that fight."