United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) Volker Turk gives a statement during a news conference at Palais Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland on 2 November 2022.

The United Nations said hate speech was on the rise everywhere, as the UN Human Rights Council held an urgent debate Tuesday to address recent Quran-burning incidents.

These appear tailor-made to inflame anger and divide communities, the UN human rights chief Volker Turk said as he opened the debate at the UN's top rights body in Geneva.

A Quran was burnt outside the Swedish capital's main mosque on June 28, triggering a diplomatic backlash across the Muslim world.

Pakistan and other nations called for a discussion of "the alarming rise in premeditated and public acts of religious hatred as manifested by recurrent desecration of the Holy Quran in some European and other countries."

Pakistan and other members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation hope to get a resolution passed on the issue on Tuesday or later in the week.

Turk said recent Quran-burning incidents "appear to have been manufactured to express contempt and inflame anger; to drive wedges between people; and to provoke, transforming differences of perspective into hatred and, perhaps, violence".

He said that irrespective of the law or personal belief, "people need to act with respect for others".

"Speech and inflammatory acts against Muslims; Islamophobia; anti-Semitism; and actions and speech that target Christians -- or minority groups such as Ahmadis, Baha'is or Yazidis -- are manifestations of utter disrespect. They are offensive, irresponsible and wrong," said Turk.

He said hate speech needed to be combated through dialogue, education, raising awareness and inter-faith engagement.

"Powered by the tidal forces of social media, and in a context of increasing international and national discord and polarisation, hate speech of every kind is rising, everywhere," Turk said.

"It is harmful to individuals, and it damages the social cohesion necessary to the sound functioning of all societies."

Salwan Momika, 37, who fled from Iraq to Sweden several years ago, stomped on the Muslim holy book and set several pages alight in Stockholm.

His actions came as Muslims around the world began marking the Eid al-Adha holiday and as the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia was drawing to a close.

The Geneva-based Human Rights Council meets for three regular sessions per year. The UN's top rights body is currently in the second session, which runs until Friday.

The Swedish government condemned the Quran burning as "Islamophobic", but added that Sweden had a "constitutionally-protected right to freedom of assembly, expression and demonstration".