ISTANBUL: Foreign ministers of member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday called for “genuine” measures against Islamophobia after the attack on two New Zealand mosques that left 50 people dead last week.

Violence driven by Islamophobia requires “genuine, comprehensive and systematic measures to address this affliction”, said a statement issued after an emergency meeting of OIC foreign ministers in Istanbul.

The OIC said attacks against mosques and murders of Muslims showed the “brutal, inhumane and horrific outcomes” of hatred of Islam.

It called for countries with Muslim communities, minorities or migrants to refrain from “statements and practices that associate Islam with terror, extremism and threats” to society.

Qureshi says four of six points in OIC declaration were proposed by Pakistan

Talking to the media in Istanbul on Friday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the joint declaration adopted at the meeting comprised six points of which four were proposed by Pakistan.

He said Pakistan had proposed to expand the definition and scope of terrorism, not confining it to Al Qaeda and the militant Islamic State group only. Rather, it should also encompass the elements promoting Islamophobia.

The second point of Pakistan was to convene a special session of the UN General Assembly on Islamophobia.

Pakistan had also suggested that the OIC secretary general play a role in removing hate material against Islam from social media platforms as it leads to extremism.

And lastly, Pakistan demanded that a special rapporteur be appointed to monitor hatred against Islam and to propose suggestions for its eradication.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the world to fight back against Islamophobia in the same way it responded to anti-Semitism after the Holocaust.

The Turkish leader has presented the mosque attacks as part of a wider assault on Islam and has demanded the West do more against anti-Muslim sentiment.

“Just as humanity fought against anti-Semitism after the Holocaust disaster, it should fight against rising Islamophobia in the same determined fashion,” Mr Erdogan told the meeting of foreign ministers.

“Right now we are facing Islamophobia and Muslim hatred,” he said.

The New Zealand government on Friday reassured Muslims living in the country that they would be “safe and secure” despite the deadly attacks in Christchurch.

“Ensuring Muslim communities in New Zealand feel safe and secure is a particular focus,” New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters told the OIC meeting.

Mr Peters said New Zealand authorities would make sure “no stone stays unturned” in the prosecution of the attacker.

“This person will face the full force of New Zealand law and spend the rest of his life in isolation in a New Zealand prison,” he said.

Mr Erdogan, campaigning for local elections this month, had angered New Zealand’s government by repeatedly showing the video made by the alleged gunman, an Australian who was arrested after the massacre.

On Friday, the tone was more conciliatory. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu praised New Zealand authorities and their “sincere solidarity messages”.

“We are here to show we are one body against Islamophobic actions across the world,” he said.

Mr Peters said he did not feel a need to discuss the Turkish leader’s use of the attack video as he understood the president had stopped using it.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2019

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