ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday highlighting disturbing rise in Islamophobia across the globe urged upon the international community to “build bridges and respect each other’s religions and beliefs”.
He was virtually addressing Islamophobia at the high-level meeting of the Group of Friends of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) which commemorating its 15th anniversary.
The event was co-hosted by the Foreign Ministers of Spain and Turkey, and chaired by the High Representative of UNAOC.
The Foreign Minister commended the work of the Alliance of Civilizations in advancing mutual respect for diverse cultures, traditions and religious beliefs.
He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the promotion of inter-faith and inter-cultural harmony.
He mentioned that recent manifestation of this commitment was the opening of Kartarpur Corridor, the world’s largest Gurdwara, allowing easy access to Sikhs from the neighbourhood and all across the world to practice their religious rites.
The Foreign Minister cautioned that the alarming bells of ‘Clash of Civilizations’ were still reverberating around the world.
He expressed anguish at the exploitation of COVID-related fears to stoke racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, stigmatization, and violence against vulnerable minorities, including in our own neighbourhood.
The Foreign Minister also highlighted the disturbing rise in Islamophobia, evident in the manifestos of far-right and neo-fascist parties, the politicization and censorship of the Hijab (Muslim woman’s veil), cow vigilantism, burning of Holy Quran, deliberate vandalizing of Islamic symbols and holy sites, and attempts at incitement through the publication of hurtful caricatures.
The Foreign Minister reiterated the call made by Prime Minister Imran Khan to universally outlaw willful provocation and incitement to hate and violence, and to designate an ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’.
The Alliance of Civilisations was established in 2005 as a leading UN platform for inter-cultural dialogue to promote understanding between diverse nations and communities.
Pakistan is part of its ‘Group of Friends’ which meets on a regular basis to discuss UNAOC’s current programmes, new initiatives and other activities.