Home Latest News U.N. Designates March 15 as ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’

U.N. Designates March 15 as ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’

by Staff Report

File photo. Angela Weiss—AFP

P.M. Khan congratulates Muslim Ummah for global body’s recognition of challenges posed by Islamophobia

The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and designated March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

Hailing the developing, Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the Muslim Ummah for the resolution’s adoption, claiming it proved “our voice against the rising tide of Islamophobia has been heard.” In a posting on Twitter, he added, “Today, the U.N. has finally recognized the grave challenge confronting the world: of Islamophobia, respect for religious symbols, and practices and of curtailing systematic hate speech and discrimination against Muslims.”

The resolution was co-sponsored by all 57 members of the OIC, as well as eight other countries, including China and Russia. It strongly deplores all acts of violence against anyone on the basis of their religion or belief as well as any acts directed against their places of worship. It also declares all attacks on and in religious places, sites and shrines in violation of international law. OIC nations already observe March 15 as the day to combat Islamophobia since November 2020, when they adopted a resolution to this effect that was presented by Pakistan.

March 15 commemorates the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand in which 51 people were murdered and dozens more injured.

Muslim sentiments

In a statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stressed that the resolution reflected the sentiments of more than 1.5 billion Muslims globally. “It is a matter of great satisfaction and pride for Pakistan to have steered this initiative under the leadership and guidance of Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he said, adding that the prime minister had been the first Muslim leader to raise the issue of Islamophobia at the U.N. in his maiden address to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 27, 2019.

“The prime minister has since been regularly advocating the need to effectively combat the scourge of Islamophobia at various regional and international forums,” he noted, emphasizing that the resolution’s adoption was a result of Pakistan and other Islamic countries pursuing an “extensive diplomatic process with U.N. member states” over the past year.

“The adoption of this resolution comes at a time when hate speech, discrimination and violence against Muslims are proliferating in several parts of the world including in our neighborhood,” Qureshi said. “It is on vivid display in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Islamophobia today is manifested in negative profiling by security agencies, stigmatization, deliberate vandalizing of Islamic symbols and holy sites, killings by cow vigilantes, discriminatory laws and policies, ban on hijab, attacks on mosques, pronouncements by far-right parties that call for expulsion and even ‘genocide’ of Muslims, anti-Muslim migrant bias, and attacks on the dignity of Muslim women,” he added.

He said the designation of an International Day to Combat Islamophobia would not only send a “clear message” against the challenges posed by racism, discrimination and violence against Muslims, but would also raise international awareness about increasing Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred. “[It would] promote a message of tolerance, peaceful co-existence and interfaith and cultural harmony,” he said, adding that Pakistan desired bridge-building and promotion of respect for all religions and beliefs.

“I reiterate Pakistan’s call for a global dialogue amongst civilizations under the ambit of the United Nations to promote peaceful co-existence and interfaith harmony,” he said, stressing that Pakistan would continue to advance international efforts to protect individuals against xenophobia, intolerance, discrimination, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, violence, incitement to violence and hate crimes based on religion or belief.

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