NEW YORK: Pakistan submitted a six-point plan to address Islamophobia at an anti-terrorism event at the United Nations headquarters on Monday. Other countries too called for ways to counter the growing phenomenon of faith-based hatred and violence.
“A particularly alarming development is the rise of Islamophobia, which represents the recent manifestation of the age-old hatred that spawned anti-Semitism, racism, apartheid and many other forms of discrimination,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, said in her speech at the sideline event titled “Countering terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief”.
Ms Lodhi elaborated the six points to deal with hate-driven violence and Islamophobia. Firstly, governments need to adopt legislation to address the issue, she said. Secondly, tech companies must prevent digital technologies and social media platforms from becoming channels for inflammatory content, incitement and negative stereotyping.
Thirdly, she said, Islamophobia must be countered through a focused strategy as social tensions engendered by it posed a risk to vulnerable Muslim migrants and refugees in the West, besides potentially threatening the social cohesion of host communities.
Fourthly, there is a need to boost investment in enhanced research to monitor the trends and analyse the root causes and drivers of violence incited by religious hatred.
Fifthly, engagement with youth and women is imperative to establish tolerant and inclusive societies. And the final point in Ms Lodhi’s plan stated there was a critical need to increase investment in education. “As hatred is born in the mind, education would be the key to promoting peace and tolerance,” she said.
“Populist narratives are being exploited by demagogues as a strategy to achieve political objectives,” she said. “In many parts of the world, including our own region, hateful rhetoric is being used to secure narrow political and electoral gains. Let this be a moment for all of us to come together to reverse the tide of hate and intolerance and its violent manifestations. If we have to eliminate terrorism, we must eliminate its root causes.”
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2019