WHERE IN NEW YORK CITY: On Friday, Saudi Arabia urged the rest of the United Nations to condemn attacks on Muslims and instead promote a culture of peace that rejects bigotry and extremism while encouraging the tolerance and mutual respect necessary for lasting stability.
On March 15, the first International Day to Combat Islamophobia will be observed, and the Kingdom’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Mohammed Alateek, will be speaking at a high-level event at the UN General Assembly.
Pakistan, which holds the rotating presidency of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and Csaba Korosi, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, put together the UN event.
Organizers said it was a call for international cooperation to combat “racial profiling, discrimination, negative stereotyping, and stigmatization of Muslims.” It also addressed xenophobia, intolerance, and violence against people because of their religion or belief system.
They also said that they wanted to see more international action taken in favor of dialogue aimed at fostering a global culture of tolerance based on a respect for human rights.
In a statement delivered on behalf of the Arab Group to the UN, Alateek remarked that the event’s packed Assembly Hall on Friday was evidence of international support for Muslims fighting Islamophobia.
According to Alateek, the Arab Group considers the establishment of an International Day to Combat Islamophobia an important step toward fostering open communication, spreading a culture of peace, and increasing adherence to basic human rights.
“This is an important occasion that allows us to highlight all of the manifestations of hatred and Islamophobia against Muslims, which sometimes lead to abominable acts, the (most recent) of which were (those) perpetrated in Sweden (by) a group of extremists,” he added.
In January, a Danish far-right activist burned a Quran and made inflammatory comments about immigrants and Islam during a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, which had been authorized by Swedish police.
“serve as a basis for the promotion of a culture of peace to combat discrimination and extremism and to strengthen dialogue between cultures and religions in order to establish peace and security and mutual respect,” Alateek pleaded with the international community to do in response to such extremist acts.
He continued by saying this is essential for creating conditions that foster harmony and mutual respect on a national and global scale.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of Pakistan, who chairs the Council of Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, spoke first and addressed some of the ways in which Islamophobia persists and is often unreported.
“The dangers of Islamophobia often gain international attention when a heinous act of violence and terrorism strikes innocent Muslims, while the daily, silent drip of discrimination, hatred and hostility against Muslims remains largely ignored and underreported,” said Bhutto Zardari.
A UN special envoy for combating Islamophobia was among the measures he advocated for, as were “international measures for the protection of holy sites; the adoption of laws to outlaw hate speech; the provision of legal assistance and appropriate compensation; and the establishment of national and international judicial mechanisms and laws to hold those responsible for acts of Islamophobia accountable.”
In 2022, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously passed a resolution designating March 15 as International Day to Combat Islamophobia. We picked this date because it marks one year since a lone gunman opened fire in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 and injuring 40.
According to the Pakistani delegate who introduced the resolution, Islamophobia is a new form of racism that manifests itself in discriminatory travel bans, hate speech, and the targeting of girls and women because of the clothing they wear.
The resolution’s text urged world leaders to promote peace and tolerance based on a mutual appreciation of religious and cultural differences.
According to Alateek, this resolution proved the importance of “combining our efforts, on the international level, to take decisive action to end discrimination, hatred, and Islamophobia.”
On behalf of the Arab League, he reaffirmed the organization’s demand that all UN members fully implement the resolution “because it is a question of our shared civilization and we have the obligation to combat discrimination based on religion.”
The nearly two billion Muslims in the world, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during Friday’s event, represent humanity in all its magnificent diversity but often face bigotry and prejudice “for no other reason than their faith.”
He went on to say that there is an inescapable link between anti-Muslim bigotry and sexism.
Guterres warned that the worst effects can be seen in “triple discrimination” against women due to their gender, ethnicity, and religion.
“The increasing hostility toward Muslims is not an isolated phenomenon. It’s an inevitable byproduct of the rise of ethno-nationalism, neo-Nazi white supremacist ideas, and violence against minorities like Muslims, Jews, and members of some Christian sects.
And, he said, “diminishes us all and it is incumbent upon all of us to stand against it.”
Alateek commended the efforts of the president of the General Assembly “to strengthen the values of religious tolerance,” along with those of the secretary-general, and the office of the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations.
He concluded by saying that the UN’s pursuit of peace, security, and the protection of human rights all begin with the need to combat Islamophobia.