March 15 declared ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’ – UN

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The UN General Assembly has adopted by consensus a resolution declaring March 15 as International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

The resolution on Tuesday was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It marks the day when a gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 worshippers and wounding 40 others in the terror attack.

Formally introducing the resolution, Pakistan’s UN envoy Munir Akram said anti-Muslim hatred has become a “reality” that is “proliferating in several parts of the world.”

“Such acts of discrimination, hostility and violence towards Muslims –– individuals and communities –– constitute grave violations of their human rights, and violate their freedom of religion and belief,” Akram said in the General Assembly Hall.

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“It is particularly alarming these days, for it has emerged as a new form of racism characterised by xenophobia, negative profiling and stereotyping of Muslims,” he added.

Akram said: “The gender aspect of Islamophobia is also gaining prominence, with girls and women being targeted due to mode of their dress and the general notion that Muslim women are oppressed and thus must be liberated.”

“Next challenge is to ensure implementation of this landmark resolution,” Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan said, adding “our voice against the rising tide of Islamophobia has been heard.”

Global dialogue on tolerance, peace

The resolution recognises “with deep concern” what it said is an “overall rise in instances of discrimination, intolerance and violence, regardless of the actors, directed against members of many religious and other communities.”

It maintains terrorism “cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group,” and calls for “strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels.”

“Even in our immediate neighbourhood, this discrimination is rising to unprecedented levels,” Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf said.

Yusuf was referring to India where a local court on Tuesday upheld the right-wing BJP government’s ban on hijab in schools and colleges, concluding hijab “is not a part of essential religious practice.”

“The recent hijab controversy under the tutelage of an intolerant Indian government and attacks on places of worship of Muslim and other minorities in India is concerning for the entire region,” he said.

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