MANHATTAN: Pakistan highlighted the growing phenomenon of Islamophobia and escalating hate speech against Muslims in some parts of the world at a virtual event held to mark the International Day of Human Fraternity on Tuesday (7th of Feb 2023).
“While none of the religious communities are immune from violence based on religion or belief, a particularly alarming global trend is the resurgence in Islamophobia that has emerged as a new form of racism characterized by xenophobia, negative profiling and stereotyping of Muslims,” Ambassador Munir Akram said in remarks at the event organized by the Missions of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as well as the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).
The International Day of Human Fraternity was established by the UN General Assembly on December 21, 2020, as a way to promote greater cultural and religious tolerance. The declaration “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” was co-authored by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb.
“It is true that observing the international day of Human Fraternity is now ever more important, considering the deplorable fragmentation of our world today,” the Pakistani envoy said.
“Along with rising frictions and divisions among and within specific communities, there is a global upsurge in intolerance, discrimination, racism, negative stereotyping, and violence against individuals on the basis of religion or belief.”
Referring to increasing Islamophobia, Ambassador Akram said, “There are open calls for expulsion and even ‘genocide’ of Muslims, politicization and censorship of the hijab, discriminatory citizenship and migration laws, deliberate vandalizing of Islamic symbols and holy sites and burning of the Holy Quran as also evident in recent unfortunate incidents in Sweden, The Netherlands and Denmark.”
In this regard, he said the commemoration of the first anniversary of the General Assembly resolution designating 15 March as International Day to combat Islamophobia will take place at the UN.
The resolution, sponsored by 57 OIC countries, was piloted by Pakistan in the 193-member member Assembly.
“The purpose of commemorating this day is to exhibit unfettered solidarity with humanity, convey a strong message of respect for human dignity, and reiterate our common commitment to ‘unity in diversity’,” Ambassador Akram said, adding, “This day is about uniting, not dividing.”
“Through the observance of this day,” he said, “we aim to build a better global understanding of Islam and Islamic precepts.”
“It is in our enlightened interest to respect each other’s religions, avoid denigration of religious symbols and personalities, eliminate religious discrimination, and combat incitement to violence, including its contemporary manifestation of Islamophobia,” the Pakistani envoy said.
UNAOC’s High Representative, Miguel Angel Moratinos, said that Islamophobia was indeed on the rise and that his organization would work with Pakistan, chair of the OIC group at the UN, in observing the first International Day to Combat Islamophobia on March 15.
“Pakistan can count on UNAOC support in this regard,” he said.