UN designates 15 March as International Day to Combat Islamophobia

un designates 15 march as international day to combat islamophobia
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Publié le 21 mars 2022, par Samir | 16 h 53 min
Temps de lecture : 9 minutes

A memorable event took place in the history of the United Nations as the United Nations General Assembly has declared March 15 as International Day to combat Islamophobia by consensus. Pakistan was the only country to initiate this resolution on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). This day a heinous terror attack happened in Christchurch, NewZealand when an armed man opened fire in a mosque killing 51 people and injuring 40.

UNGA to designate March 15th as International Day to combat Islamophobia

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, lauded this decision by the UNGA to designate March 15th as International Day to combat Islamophobia. He congratulated the Muslim community on achieving this remarkable milestone in his tweet on Tuesday:

« I want to congratulate the Muslim Ummah today as our voice against the rising tide of Islamophobia has been heard & the UN has adopted a landmark resolution introduced by Pakistan, on behalf of OIC, designating 15 March as International Day to Combat Islamophobia. »

Khan appreciated the UNGA’s recognition and expressed his determination to face the next challenge of ensuring the implementation of that crucial resolution. He said:

« Today UN has finally recognized the grave challenge confronting the world: of Islamophobia, respect for religious symbols & practices & of curtailing systematic hate speech & discrimination against Muslims. The next challenge is to ensure implementation of this landmark resolution. »

The world body comprising 193 members designated the resolution on Tuesday, and 57 members of the OIC co-sponsored it, including eight other nations. Russia and China were also among those eight countries. The resolution focuses on the rights of freedom of religion and belief and reconsiders a resolution passed in 1981 to « eliminate all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief. »

Increase awareness about curbing Islamophobia

The resolution demands all nations, U.N. bodies, international, domestic, and faith-based organizations « to organize and support various high-visibility events to effectively increase awareness about curbing Islamophobia, » observe the new International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

Several member countries supported the declaration, but India, France, and the European Union showed concerns. While religious intolerance was prevalent worldwide, the resolution preferred only Islam and sidelined others.

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, TS Trimurti, complained that the document did not include anti-Hindu sentiments, among other faiths.

The official Twitter account of the United Nations posted this news as:

« UNGA proclaims 15 March the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

General Assembly calls for strengthened international efforts to foster global dialogue on the promotion of the culture of tolerance & peace, based on respect for human rights & for the diversity of religions & beliefs. »

Rising Islamophobia is a concern

As Pakistan’s Representative to the UN, Munir Akram, officially introduced the resolution. He showed grave concern that anti-Muslim prejudice and hatred have become an alarming reality spreading worldwide. Akram is currently the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN in New York.

« 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 stated while speaking in the UNGA Hall.

The Pakistani Ambassador emphasized that Imran Khan took the initiative to bring the Islamophobia issue on the UN’s platform back in 2019. Khan spoke to the General Assembly and had consistently demanded international action and struggle to combat this issue.

« Today’s resolution invites all member states, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, other international and regional organizations, civil society, private sector, and faith-based organizations to observe the international day appropriately, » he added.

The Permanent Representative also discussed a UN SpecialRapporeur on Freedom of Religion or Belief document. According to Munir, the report had statements around 9/11 and that « since the 9/11 attacks institutional suspicion and fear of Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim has escalated to epidemic proportions. »

In such fearful, unreliable, and unforeseen times, « Muslims often feel stigma, negative stereotyping and shame and a sense that they are suspect communities being forced to bear collective responsibility for the actions of a small minority, » Munir narrated.

« The spread of Islamophobia, in terms of the phenomenon’s momentum and outreach, is particularly alarming. It has emerged as a new form of racism characterized by xenophobia, negative profiling, and stereotyping of Muslims, » Akram added.

He said that the « rise in hate crimes against Muslims, both offline and online, and discrimination in education, citizenship, immigration, employment, housing and healthcare sectors, among others, are well documented. »

While mentioning gender-based Islamophobia, Akram added that women are becoming victims due to their dress choice and the shared perspective that Muslim girls are under oppression. And hence they must be accessible.

« What indeed is worrisome, » the Pakistani representative said, was that Islamophobia “continues to find strong resonance in political spheres, ultimately leading to the institutionalization of Islamophobia through new legislation[s] and policies, such as discriminatory travel bans and visa restrictions.”

Islamophobia in the media

“Various academic studies have revealed that Islamophobia is most visible in the media and in the discourse of far-right groups and political parties and groups, who tend to exploit and build on the general fear of Islam for electoral gains,” he added.

According to Akram, anti-immigration and anti-refugee reporting had become a cause of the anti-Muslim phobia, and it often acted as the primary reason for political campaigns.

Representative Akram expressed severe concern over several media platforms for propagating fear and negative stereotypes against Islam and Muslims, “notably by acting as a platform for widespread dissemination of anti-Muslim rhetoric. »

“Despite its pervasive impacts, Islamophobia remains poorly understood, [and] it is essential to promote greater information of this phenomena and promote solutions through greater understanding and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, » he said.

The ambassador to the United Nations also highlighted the main goals that he told the resolution aimed to fulfill. The aims are as follows:

  • Raise international awareness about the growing phenomenon of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.
  • Send a clear message that the world opposes all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, negative stereotyping, and stigmatization.
  • To promote the message of tolerance, peaceful co-existence, and interfaith and cultural harmony among all religions, races, and nations.
  • To demonstrate by commemorating unfettered solidarity with all humanity on this day, convey a strong message of respect for human dignity, and reiterate joint commitment to unity in diversity.

“The objective of observing this day is about uniting, not dividing,” Akram said while concluding his speech.

« It is particularly alarming these days, for it has emerged as a new form of racism characterized by xenophobia, negative profiling, and stereotyping of Muslims, » he pointed out.

Akram added, « 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. »

The process of securitizing Islam

Security concerns primarily drove the eruption of hatred among the general public. It was used by states – to justify their actions – against non-state actors and individuals. Militant factions like Al Qaeda, Daesh, and Taliban replaced Iran as they were portrayed as a new addition to Islamic fundamentalism and radicalization.

State officials stated harassment against Muslim minority groups and mosques got into an investigation. This fearful environment strengthened favor for Iraq and Afghanistan invasions under the feigned global ‘War on Terror’.

The circumstances in the states under invasion were horrible. Detention places like Abu Gharib became hubs of dehumanization and harassment of Muslim communities. Several others moved to Guantanamo Bay, where the provision of their fundamental human rights was unfair.

Western media played a biased part and damaged the Muslims’ sufferings as violent activities by Muslim criminals got more highlights for coverage than those involving non-Muslims. Meanwhile, prominent media platforms published several articles comprising Islamophobic content. It supported the building up of a baseless native perspective against Islam.

Its secondary phase had labeled Muslims as a security menace by that time. Islamic acts like keeping a beard or observing hijab became symbols of religious extremism and a part of terrorism.

Migration Turmoil

After the second phase, the third era started when European political turmoil surfaced due to 2014 migration, and it is still ongoing even today. In this phase, anti-Islamic sentiments are triggered due to local politics and social threats. From a societal point of view, uncertainty due to demographic invasion caused a violent domestic movement against Muslim refugees and immigrants. These entities had already become a security threat.

Even in developed nations, one could observe a sudden rise in terror attacks against the Muslim population.

In the political setting, leaders were responsible for spewing hatred against Muslims for their gains. French President, Macron’s hateful comments about Islam depict an act of including far-right voting elements in elections. US President Donald Trump and Indian prime minister Modi reprimanded Muslims to attract their specific voter groups.

Due to increasing biased rulers, anti-Islamic sentiments are slowly going through organized political exploitation. European states approved laws that violated the Muslim population’s freedom. In France, the anti-separatism bill approved banning Muslim gatherings and restricting public show of Islamic symbols. In India and Myanmar, the systematic oppression of Muslims has become a common practice.

Today the Islamophobic perspective that fueled up in the 1970s turned out to be a more prevalent, systematic, and terror process. However, the Western media’s propaganda to call Islam for Muslim radicalization shifted to radicalizing its people. Now Islamophobia has become a terrifying term that oppresses Muslims globally. It is crucial to understand the root causes of Islamophobia in the 1970s phase and not the 2000s time.

World peace and tolerance dialogue

The resolution acknowledges with great concern what it declared was an « overall rise in instances of discrimination, intolerance, and violence, regardless of the actors, directed against members of many religious and other communities. » It noted that terrorism does not and should not have an association with “any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group” and demanded establishing international efforts to encourage a world dialogue for spreading peace and tolerance.

The National Security Adviser for Pakistan, Moeed Yousuf, said, « Even in our immediate neighborhood, this discrimination is rising to unprecedented levels. »

Yousuf mentioned India, where a national court validated the BJP’s Hijab ban in educational institutions stating that hijab was not a part of fundamental religious acts.

« 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, » Yousuf added.

Youm-e-Tashakur being observed

Pakistan observed Youm-e-Tashakur on Friday following the United Nations finally recognizing the crucial Islamophobia challenge facing the world. Foreign missions in crucial states, including the United States, European Union, and Gulf Cooperation Council, will organize events to discuss Pakistan’s part in combating Islamophobia.

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