On Tuesday, the United Nations adopted a resolution introduced by Pakistan and designated March 15 as ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’. The resolution was sponsored by 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and eight other countries, including China and Russia.
Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan called it a ‘landmark’ resolution and congratulated the Muslim Ummah as the UN had heard Pakistan’s voice against the rising tide of Islamophobia. “Today UN has finally recognized the grave challenge confronting the world: of Islamophobia, respect for religious symbols & practices & of curtailing systematic hate speech & discrimination against Muslims. Next challenge is to ensure implementation of this landmark resolution”, he tweeted.
Today UN has finally recognised the grave challenge confronting the world: of Islamophobia, respect for religious symbols & practices & of curtailing systematic hate speech & discrimination against Muslims. Next challenge is to ensure implementation of this landmark resolution.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2022
According to the reports, the resolution seeks to deplore all ‘violent activities’ against persons on the basis of their religion. The activities include acts directed against their places of worship, all attacks on and in religious places, sites and shrines. Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan, told the Assembly that ‘Islamophobia is a reality and that the growing phenomenon needs to be addressed’.
However, India called out the UN resolution on ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’ saying that the observance might downplay the seriousness of phobias against all other religions. “It is time that we acknowledge the prevalence of religiophobia, rather than single out just one”, said India’s permanent representative to the United Nations TS Tirumurti at UNGA.
Discouraging the phobia against one religion, the Indian envoy expressed hope that the resolution adopted by the UN does not lead to multiple resolutions on phobias based on selective religions and divide the United Nations into religious camps. “It is important that UN remains above such religious matters which may seek to divide us rather than bring us together on one platform of peace, harmony and treat the world as one family”, he added.
#WATCH India’s Permanent Representative to UN, Amb TS Tirumurti at UN General Assembly on Adoption of Resolution on the International Day to Combat Islamophobia— ANI (@ANI) March 15, 2022
(Source: Permanent Mission of India to UN) pic.twitter.com/1TrgFmKLVe
Along with India, representatives of France and European Union also expressed concerns that while religious intolerance is prevalent all over the world, the UN had singled out only Islam and excluded others. It is worth mentioning that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was the first person to raise the issue of so-called Islamophobia at the UN in his historic 2019 address to the General Assembly. Since then Pakistan has repeatedly called for international attention and efforts to address the issue.
The United Nation’s new resolution on ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’, invites the member states and other international and regional organizations, civil society, private sector and faith-based organizations to observe the international day in an appropriate manner. According to the reports, the resolution introduced by Pakistan seeks to send a clear message that ‘the world opposes all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, negative stereotyping and stigmatization’. It also seeks to ‘promote the message of tolerance, peaceful co-existence and interfaith and cultural harmony among all religions, races and nations’.
Pertinently, the United Nations in 2019 has already proclaimed August 22 as the International Day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion of belief which is inclusive in nature. Also, the International Day for Tolerance is marked every year on November 16 in order to create awareness about the principles of tolerance. It is a day for respecting the cultures, beliefs and traditions of others and understanding the risks posed by intolerance.
Rise of the term ‘Islamophobia’-
In a 1918 biography of Islam’s prophet written in French language the word ‘islamophobie’ was used, arguably for the first time. Robin Richardson, who translated that biography into English, did not use the word as ‘Islamophobia’ but rather as ‘feelings inimical to Islam’. The word ‘Islamophobia’ with meaning of ‘unseasonable and imaginary fear and hatred towards Islam’ entered into common usage in 1997. The 2004 UN conference later entitled ‘Confronting Islamophobia’, forced international recognition of ‘Islamophobia’ as a specific expression.