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Call for a ‘sharp focus’ on combating Islamophobia

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UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has urged the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) to concentrate on combating the rising phenomenon of Islamophobia, which now forms part of far-right and neo-fascist parties’ manifestos, causing concern to the Islamic world.

“We are witnessing the global resurgence in intolerance, discrimination, racism, negative stereotyping, and violence against persons, on the basis of religion or belief,” Ambassador Aamir Khan, deputy permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told a meeting of UNAOC’s Group of friends on Tuesday.

“While none of the religious communities are immune from such discrimination, a particularly alarming trend is the global resurgence in Islamophobia,” he said.

The purpose of the alliance is to build bridges, and not burn them, the Pakistani representative said.

“Irrespective of our diversity,” Aamir Khan said, “it is in our enlightened interest to respect each other’s religious beliefs, eliminate the most pervasive forms of religious discrimination and combat incitement to violence.”
But today, he said Islamophobia was unmistakable in the manifestos of far-right and neo-fascist parties that call for expulsion and even genocide of Muslim minorities; in the politicization and censorship of the hijab; in the deliberate vandalizing of Islamic symbols and holy sites; and, in some cases, adoption of highly discriminatory citizenship laws.

“Such acts of discrimination, hostility and violence towards Muslim individuals and communities constitute grave violations of their human rights and violate their freedom of religion and belief,” the Pakistan representative said.

“They also cause great anguish within the Islamic world,” he said, noting that numerous world leaders, UN officials, including the UN Secretary-General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council have underscored the importance of collectively addressing the problem of Islamophobia.

“We would therefore urge UNAOC to retain a sharp focus on combating Islamophobia while formulating its program and activities.”
At the United Nations, Ambassador Aamir Khan said, an unequivocal show of empathy and solidarity with victims of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred would help in responding to public concern in many Muslim countries.

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