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UN adopts resolution as Pakistan warns of threat to global peace from Islamophobia

Updated April 03, 2019

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Lodhi calls for a collaborative, coherent and committed global response and action against Islamophobia.— APP/File
Lodhi calls for a collaborative, coherent and committed global response and action against Islamophobia.— APP/File

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution moved by Turkey and co-sponsored by Pakistan strongly condemning violence and terrorism targeting individuals belonging to religious minorities.

Introducing the resolution, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, told the 193-member assembly that the international community must stand up against the spiral of hate. Sending condolences to the families of the Muslims who were killed in the Christchurch terror attacks, he said that Islamophobia and racism go hand in hand.

Rejecting the actions of reckless politicians who often use distorted historical narratives and conspiracy theories to equate Islam with terrorism, he quoted the poet Rumi who said, "Listen with ears of tolerance, see with eyes of compassion, speak the language of love."

The UNGA through the resolution, titled 'Combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief', condemned the heinous, cowardly terrorist attack targeting Muslims praying in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, and offered its deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

The assembly urged states to protect and promote freedom of religion and belief and to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect.

After passage of the resolution, Pakistani Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi highlighted the rise of extreme nationalist and populist ideologies in the West and also in Pakistan's neighbourhood.

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"Pervasive Islamophobia is a global phenomenon," she said, calling for a collaborative, coherent and committed global response in this regard.

"The adoption of the resolution today is a strong manifestation of our shared commitment to stand united against racial and religious hatred."

In her speech, Ambassador Lodhi, pointing out that nine victims of the Christchurch attack hailed from Pakistan, said that profiling and stigmatising people from one country could have drastic consequences.

The Christchurch terrorist, she said, was only the latest manifestation of a growing phenomenon rooted in hate, bigotry, racism, and the extremist ideology of racial and white supremacy.

"The rise of extreme nationalist and populist ideologies in liberal Western democracies and elsewhere, including in our region, are fanning the flames of bigotry, intolerance, anti-Muslim hatred and xenophobia," the Pakistani envoy added.

The growing prejudice against Islam was "evident in policies aimed at creating walls and barriers against displaced populations, as much as in attempts to denigrate Islamic beliefs and our sacred personalities on the pretext of freedom of expression".

"The political falsehood of equating people of different religions with violent extremism, in order to garner political support for the forces of hate lies at the heart of this phenomenon," Lodhi asserted.

Freedom of expression, she said, was often used as an excuse to enable such vile expression to prosper and for hate speech to enter the mainstream.

The Christchurch tragedy also exposed social media's radicalising role, she noted. "It is time that we evolve ways to ensure that social media companies are held accountable for their content that incites violence or spreads hatred," she said, adding that Islamophobia posed a grave threat to global peace and security.

"We must strengthen efforts to foster a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance, dialogue and peace at all levels," she said, while emphasising respect for human rights and diversity as well as space for diverse voices, religions, worldviews and faith traditions.

Pakistan, she said, was committed to continuing its efforts to build bridges of understanding and challenge and resist those who seek to construct walls of bigotry and hatred.

"We look towards all those who believe in humanity's common future, to help in evolving a consensus for action to combat the forces of Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism."

While expressing solidarity with the people and government of New Zealand, she saluted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her "exemplary leadership" in the face of this tragedy.