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Religiophobia against Non-Abrahamic faith must be acknowledged: India opposes special UN envoy for Islamophobia, abstains from Pakistan’s resolution

India opposed the creation of the post of a special UN envoy for Islamophobia asserting that it would “potentially divide the UN into religious camps”.

During the UN General Assembly session, India categorically asserted that it is time for the UN body to acknowledge the prevalence of religiophobia beyond Abrahamic faiths. India also, in principle, opposed the creation of the post of a special UN envoy for Islamophobia asserting that it would “potentially divide the UN into religious camps”. Further, the Indian Permanent Ambassador to the UN, Ruchira Kamboj also launched a scathing attack against her Pakistani counterpart, slamming him for making references to the Ram Mandir and Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Notably, India abstained from voting on a resolution titled ‘Measures to combat Islamophobia’ which was introduced by Pakistan. The resolution was however passed with 115 votes in favour and none against, with 44 countries choosing to abstain. The general assembly called upon Member States to take all necessary measures — including legislative and policy steps — to combat hatred and violence against Muslims. It also requested the Secretary-General to appoint a United Nations Special Envoy to combat Islamophobia.

Explaining India’s stance over religiophobia, Kamboj diplomatically criticised the resolution for its narrow scope and failure to address the growing intolerance against non-Abrahamic faiths.  

Kamboj said, “India stands against all forms of religiophobia, be it anti-Semitism, Christianophobia, or Islamophobia, as we stand against all anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist, and anti-Sikh sentiments.” 

Pointing out rising hate against non-Abrahamic faiths, she stressed, “In our world today, we are confronted with escalating geopolitical tensions and unequal developments resulting in a concerning rise in intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief.” “India, as a proud champion of pluralism, firmly upholds the principle of equal protection and promotion of all religions and all faiths,” she added.

She added that India provides a sanctuary free from persecution or discrimination to Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Jews, and adherents of any other belief, highlighting India’s ardent belief in ‘Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava’.

She said, “At the heart of this ethos is our principle of Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava, encapsulating Indian secularism and affirming the inherent goodness of all religions, each deserving of equal respect.” 

This principle isn’t merely a facet of our culture, it is firmly enshrined within the constitution of India, Kamboj added.

Clear evidence that followers of non-Abrahamic religions have also been affected by religiophobia

She further strongly condemned the acts motivated by antisemitism, Christianophobia, or Islamophobia. 

She added, “It is therefore with deep concern, that we observe the growing manifestation of intolerance, discrimination, and violence against followers of various religions. We condemn all acts motivated by antisemitism, Christianophobia, or Islamophobia.” 

She, however, emphasised that it is crucial to acknowledge that such phobias extend beyond the Abrahamic religions. Notably, the term Abrahamic faiths is a category to group the three major religions namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam together.

The top Indian diplomat at the UN added, “Clear evidence shows that over decades, followers of non-Abrahamic religions have also been affected by religiophobia. This has led to the emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, particularly anti-Islam, anti-Buddhist, and anti-Sikh elements.” 

Highlighting the increasing attacks on religious places of worship, Kamboj said that these contemporary forms of religiophobia are evident through such attacks on gurudwaras, monasteries, and temples, as well as the spreading of hatred and disinformation against non-Abrahamic religions in many countries.

She further stated, “The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, violations of Gurudwara premises, massacres of Sikh pilgrims in Gurudwaras, attacks on temples, and the glorification of breaking idols in temples, all contribute to the rise of contemporary forms of religiophobia against nonabrahamic religions.”  

Hinduism, with over 1.2 billion followers, Buddhism, with more than 535 million and Sikhism, with over 30 million followers worldwide, are all subject to religiophobia, Kamboj pointed out before the UNGA. 

Pressing on the UN body, she asserted, “It is time that we acknowledge the prevalence of religiophobia rather than just single out one.”  

She urged, “I would ask all member states to consider the broader scope of religious discrimination that persists globally.”

While the issue of Islamophobia is undoubtedly significant, however, other religions are also facing discrimination and violence. 

Acknowledge religiophobia beyond Abrahamic faiths, India opposes ‘special envoy’ based on a ‘special religion’

Kamboj further said that allocating resources solely to combat Islamophobia while neglecting similar challenges faced by other faiths, might inadvertently perpetuate a sense of exclusion and inequality.

Moreover, these substantial budgetary implications of establishing such a position prompt us to pause and reflect on whether this is the most effective use of resources. 

Regarding the appointment of a United Nations Special Envoy to combat Islamophobia, Kamboj said, “We are in principle opposed to the creation of the post of a special envoy based on a special religion.”

She stressed, “We trust that the resolution adopted today does not establish a precedent that could result in numerous resolutions centred on phobias tied to specific religions, potentially dividing the United Nations into religious camps.” 

Kamboj emphasised the need for the United Nations to maintain its stance above such religious concerns adding that such a resolution would have the potential to fragment the UN body rather than unite the members under the banner of peace and harmony, embracing the world as one global family. 

Following her explanation, India abstained from voting on the resolution on Measures to combat Islamophobia. It was introduced by Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations during the 62nd plenary meeting of the General Assembly on the Culture of peace.

India slams Pakistan for its “broken record”

In her concluding remarks, Kamboj also lambasted Pakistan for ranting against India and making needless references to consecration at the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and the implementation of CAA. 

She said, “One final point concerns a delegation (and its remarks) that, much like a broken record, remains sadly stagnant while the world progresses.” 

Kamboj added, “It is unfortunate indeed to witness this delegation’s (Pakistan) limited and misguided perspective on matters relating to my country, the more so, when the General Assembly considers a matter that demands wisdom, depth, and a global outlook from the entire membership – perhaps not the forte of this delegation.”

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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