ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday joined the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in observing the first International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

At a meeting of the OIC foreign ministers held on Nov 27 last year in Niamey, Niger, Pakistan presented a resolution to designate March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

The resolution was unanimously adopted by the OIC foreign ministers. The OIC is now working with the international community to commemorate the day at the global level.

In a statement issued here on Monday, the Foreign Office said the OIC’s unanimous support for the designation of March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia was a reflection of sentiments of billions of Muslims around the world.

The OIC will organise a top-level event in New York on March 17 to mark the occasion.

“The scourge of Islamophobia, fuelled by hate speech and lack of knowledge and disinformation, is causing unimaginable suffering to Muslim minorities around the world,” the FO statement said.

It said that Islamophobia had taken many forms, including negative profiling, mob lynching by cow vigilantes, discriminatory laws, attacks on women for wearing hijab, ban on minarets, negative propaganda and disinformation campaigns, manifestos of far-right parties, deliberate vandalism of Islamic symbols, and holy sites and attempts to link and equate Islam with terrorism.

“Such acts imperil our shared aspirations for a peaceful world and harmonious future for all,” the statement said.

The FO said that Pakistan had always supported and continued to lead international efforts for building bridges between cultures and civilisations.

“Through the observance of this day, we want to build a better understanding of Islam and Islamic precepts,” it said.

“We intend to send a message of international solidarity and cooperation. We remain determined to promote values of peaceful co-existence as well as inter-faith and cultural harmony,” the Foreign Office said.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2021

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