UN Observes First International Day to Tackle Islamophobia
In a special event that held in the General Assembly Hall on Friday, the UN observed the first-ever International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Speakers emphasized the need for effective action in the face of increasing anti-Muslim prejudice, violence, and hate.
“The observance of this day serves to reinforce our shared commitment to raise awareness about the insidious phenomenon of Islamophobia, advance mutual respect and understanding, and develop concrete measures to eradicate this contemporary plague,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakisthan Foreign Affairs Minister told delegates in the UN General Assembly Hall, while highlighting that Islam was a religion of moderation, tolerance, and pluralism.
The President of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, noted that Islamophobia is rooted in xenophobia, or the fear of strangers, which is reflected in discriminatory practices, travel bans, hate speech, bullying and targeting of other people.
He urged countries to uphold freedom of religion or belief, which is guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“All of us carry a responsibility to challenge Islamophobia or any similar phenomenon, to call out injustice and condemn discrimination based on religion or belief – or the lack of them,” he added.
The growing hate that Muslims face is not an isolated development, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told attendees.
“It is an inexorable part of the resurgence of ethno-nationalism, neo-Nazi white supremacist ideologies, and violence targeting vulnerable populations including Muslims, Jews, some minority Christian communities and others,” he said.
“Discrimination diminishes us all. And it is incumbent on all of us to stand up against it. We must never be bystanders to bigotry.”
Stressing that “we must strengthen our defenses”, Mr. Guterres highlighted UN measures such as a Plan Action to Safeguard Religious Sites. He also called for ramping up political, cultural, and economic investments in social cohesion.