Ahmed Shaheed knew no Jews growing up in the predominantly Muslim South Asian islands of the Maldives. But he knew books and newspapers and read voraciously. One particular book, given to him by his mother when he was still a child, shaped his views on antisemitism: Titled The Bad Man, it told the story of how Adolf Hitler had perpetrated the Holocaust.
“At a very early age I was very open to learning about European history and global history,” says Shaheed, who has been the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief since 2017. “That contributed to my being immune from the kind of language and discourse that is so deeply pervasive in my country.”