Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has welcomed a decision by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to approve a resolution setting March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
The resolution, adopted on Tuesday by consensus by the 193-member world body and co-sponsored by 55 mainly Muslim countries, emphasises the right to freedom of religion and belief and recalls a 1981 resolution calling for “the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief”.
The resolution was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It marks the day when a gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people and injuring 40 others.
In a tweet on Tuesday evening, Khan congratulated Muslims around the world “as our voice against the rising tide of Islamophobia has been heard”.
“Today UN has finally recognised the grave challenge confronting the world: of Islamophobia, respect for religious symbols and practices and of curtailing systematic hate speech and discrimination against Muslims,” Khan posted.
“Next challenge is to ensure implementation of this landmark resolution.”
Formally introducing the resolution, Pakistan’s UN envoy Munir Akram said anti-Muslim hatred has become a “reality” that is “proliferating in several parts of the world.”
“Such acts of discrimination, hostility and violence towards Muslims –– individuals and communities –– constitute grave violations of their human rights, and violate their freedom of religion and belief,” Akram said in the General Assembly Hall.
“It is particularly alarming these days, for it has emerged as a new form of racism characterised by xenophobia, negative profiling and stereotyping of Muslims,” he added.
Akram said: “The gender aspect of Islamophobia is also gaining prominence, with girls and women being targeted due to mode of their dress and the general notion that Muslim women are oppressed and thus must be liberated.”
The resolution recognises “with deep concern” what it said is an “overall rise in instances of discrimination, intolerance and violence, regardless of the actors, directed against members of many religious and other communities.”
It maintains terrorism “cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group,” and calls for “strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels.”
“Even in our immediate neighbourhood, this discrimination is rising to unprecedented levels,” Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf said.
Yusuf was referring to India where a local court on Tuesday upheld the right-wing BJP government’s ban on hijab in schools and colleges, concluding hijab “is not a part of essential religious practice.”
“The recent hijab controversy under the tutelage of an intolerant Indian government and attacks on places of worship of Muslim and other minorities in India is concerning for the entire region,” he said.
Sources: Al-Jazeera, TRT World