On March 15, the Permanent Representative of India to United Nations in New York, Ambassador TS Tirumurti, gave a statement on the resolution for an International Day to combat ‘Islamophobia’. In his remarks, Tirumurti said that India was not convinced that there was a need to elevate phobia against one religion to the level of an International Day.
#IndiaAtUN— India at UN, NY (@IndiaUNNewYork) March 15, 2022
UN General Assembly on Adoption of Resolution on the International Day to Combat Islamophobia
📺Watch: India’s Explanation of Position by Permanent Representative @AmbTSTirumurti ⤵️@MEAIndia pic.twitter.com/DxZ9NP1NKe
Ambassador Tirumurti expressed deep concerns on the rise of incidents linked to discrimination, intolerance and violence directed against the people of many religious communities across the world. He said as a pluralistic and democratic country, India has welcomed people from around the world, including Zoroastrians, Buddhists, and Jews, persecuted for their faith or belief.
‘Phobias are not restricted to Abrahamic religions’
He further said that India condemns all acts motivated by antisemitism, Christianophobia or Islamophobia. “However, such phobias are not restricted to Abrahamic religions only. In fact, there is clear evidence that over decades such religion-centric phobias have, in fact, affected the followers of non-Abrahamic religions as well. This has contributed to the emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias.”
Pointing out the attacks on temples, gurudwaras and monasteries etc., he said the destruction of Bamyan Buddha, violation of gurudwara premises, the massacre of Sikh pilgrims in gurudwara, attack on temples, glorification of breaking of idols in temples etc. contribute to the rise of religiophobia against non-Abrahamic religions.
Ambassador Tirumurti said, “Hinduism has more than 1.2 billion followers, Buddhism more than 535 million and Sikhism had more than 30 million spread out around the world. It is time that we acknowledged the prevalence of religiophobia, rather than single out just one.”
He said celebrating a religion is one thing but commemorating a day to combat hatred against only one religion is not the same. “In fact, this resolution may well end up downplaying the seriousness of phobias against all other religions,” he added.
‘Not convinced over the need to elevate phobia against one religion’
Tirumurti pointed towards the fact that there is already an International Day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief, i.e. August 22. He said, “We are not convinced that we need to elevate phobia against one religion to the level of an international day. We need to always be inclusive, especially in the United Nations.”
He said India had suggested amendments to include the word ‘pluralism’ in the text, but it was not included by the sponsors of the resolution for ‘reasons best known to them’. He hoped the resolution adopted by the UN would not set a precedent that would lead to multiple resolutions on phobias based on selective religions that would divide the world further instead of bringing the nations together on one platform of peace and harmony and treating the World as One Family.
The resolution against Islamophobia
The resolution was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). On March 15, 2019, a gunman killed 51 people in two mosques and injured 40 others in Christchurch, New Zealand. Interestingly, Pakistan, which introduced the resolution, is best known for atrocities against the minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and others living in the country. It has harsh laws against ‘blasphemy’ where followers of minority religions are targeted and sentenced over mere accusations.