UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned recent act of desecration of the Quran in Florida, stressing that “such actions cannot be condoned by any religion.”
In a meeting with a group of ambassadors representing Member States of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to the United Nations, Ban said: “The recent burning of a copy of the Quran in the United States and similar actions anywhere else contradict the efforts of the United Nations to promote tolerance, intercultural understanding and mutual respect between cultures and religions.”
The Secretary General termed the despicable act of burning of Islam's Book as unacceptable and said he supported the UN High Representative of the Alliance of Civilizations, Jorge Sampaio, who noted in a statement on Sunday that the “desecration of the Qoran as of any text should be vehemently repudiated.”
The burning of the Quran sparked widespread protests in Afghanistan in recent days, and resulted in the killing of three UN staff members and four Nepalese guards at the UN compound in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday.
The Secretary-General thanked the ambassadors for their condemnation of and condolences for the attack on UN staff in Afghanistan. He said such an attack cannot be justified under any circumstances.
Ban and the OIC diplomats also discussed issues related to the work of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and the Middle East peace process, as well as the evolving situation in the Middle East and North Africa.
The OIC Group of Ambassadors, comprising Tajikistan (OIC Chair), Morocco (OIC Coordinator for Human Rights), Pakistan, Iran and Egypt, Palestine and Permanent Observer of OIC, conveyed OIC's strong condemnation of this act and requested the Secretary General to assume the leadership role to address the issue.
The OIC ambassadors also expressed their strong condemnation of the unfortunate killing of UN staff at Mazar-i-Sharif Afghanistan and offered their condolences to the bereaved families.
Voicing strong condemnation of the burning of the Quran, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon, who was amongst the OIC ambassadors, met the Secretary General and expressed his profound concern at the increasing acts of Islamophobia and growing trend of intolerance.
He said the Quran is not merely a book; it was indeed the word of Allah, and it included scriptures from all faiths, including Christianity and Judaism. He expressed OIC's grave concern that the despicable act had severely hurt the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.
The Pakistani ambassador said such provocative acts are the work of extremists and fanatics guided by their hatred and intolerance for other cultures, religions and societies. These are designed to provoke dissent and discord among communities and peoples across the world, and also go against the very concept of inter-faith harmony and threaten the multicultural fabric of the societies.
Refuting Samuel Huntington's notion of clash of civilizations, Ambassador Haroon underlined the need to bolster the United Nations and Muslim-led effort to promote worldwide inter-faith and inter-cultural harmony.
The ambassador requested the UN Secretary General to take lead in ensuring peace and harmony among peoples of the world. He said OIC has full confidence in the UN's leadership and hoped that it would take a principal role in fighting such tendencies and promoting inter -cultural and inter-faith harmony that is basic to coexistence of mankind.
Ambassadors of Tajikistan (OIC Chair), Iran, Egypt and Morocco (OIC Coordinator for Human Rights) noted that the OIC being a strong proponent of inter-faith harmony has been constructively engaging and contributing on all forums devoted to this cause including the Alliance of Civilizations.
The ambassadors informed the Secretary General that OIC has recently presented a resolution in the Human Rights Council on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on their religion or belief which has been adopted by consensus.
They have called for a more active role of the UN towards protecting all the religions.
On March 22, Ambassador Haroon had also written a letter to the UN Secretary General, in which he drew UN attention towards this despicable act of desecration of the Quran by Wayne Sapp under the supervision of Pastor Terry Jones. The controversial and fundamentalist pastor oversaw the burning of a copy of the Quran at his small Florida church after the Islamic revered book was put on trial, found guilty and condemned for execution.