Combating Islamophobia | By M Zahid Rifat


Combating Islamophobia

ISLAMOPHOBIA is the fear of hatred of a prejudice against religion of Islam or Muslims in general particularly when seen as a geographical force or a source of terrorism.

The causes of Islamophobia have also been subject of debate for quite some time , most notably between the commentators who have posited an increase in Islam resulting from 9/11 attacks.

The rise of militant groups , other terror attacks in Europe and the United States by the Islamic extremists those who associated it with increased attacks in the United States and in the European Union and others who viewed it as a response to the emergence of a global Muslim identity.

Islamophobia can also be described as a prejudice, aversion, hostility or hatred towards Muslims encompassing any distinction , exclusion, restriction or performance against Muslims that has the purpose or affect of nullifying or improving the recognition, enjoyment or exercise on an equal footing of human rights, fundamental freedom in politics, economy, social , cultural or any other field of public life.

Pakistan has been raising voice, expressing concern and drawing the attention of the international community for sometime against emerging menace of Islamophobia through Prime Minister Imran Khan .

These concerted efforts have born fruit when the United Nations General Assembly on March 15, 2022 adopted a resolution by consensus which was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that proclaimed March 15 as the International Day to combat Islamophobia.

This was in continuation and recognition of a Pakistan -led resolution on Islamophobia which was unanimously adopted by the 47th OIC Council of Foreign Ministers meeting held in Niamey , Niger, on November 27-28,2020.

This was successful culmination of Pakistan’s intense diplomatic for adoption of a key resolution by the OIC.

The resolution so adopted authorized the OIC Permanent Missions in New York to jointly table a resolution in the UN General Assembly for designating March 15 as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia; urged OIC member states to organize and support various high – visibility events aimed at effectively increasing awareness at all levels about curbing Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred ;reaffirmed that desecration of the Holy Quran and reprinting of caricatures of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) are not legitimate expression of the right of expression and opinion under international human rights law; called on the OIC Secretary General to continue monitoring the phenomenon of Islamophobia by strengthening the scope of Islamophobia Observatory and take necessary steps for building a common position of the Muslim Ummah on this issue, and further ; called upon the UN Secretary General to initiate a global dialogue on countering rising Islamophobia and promoting inter-faith harmony.

Needless to mention here, in all fairness and as a matter of historical record, Prime Minister of Pakistan was amongst the first leaders of the Islamic world to raise the issue of Islamophobia at the international stage and continues to forcefully advocate the need to effectively combat the scourge.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister highlighted tackling of Islamophobia as the main highlight at the14th OIC Summit in June 2019 at Makkah; the issue of Islamophobia was the one of the main themes of the PM’s maiden address to 74th UN General Assembly session in New York in Septeber2019, and it was in his virtual address to the UNGA 75th session in September 2020 that willful provocations and incitement to hate and violence be universally outlawed and THE UNGA should declare an International Day to Combat Islamophobia .

Pakistan’s persistent concern against rising menace of Islamophobia had only be supported and endorsed by two out of more 180 world leaders i.e.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Prime Minister John Trudeu of Canada.This amply shows the world leaders regrettable and deplorable negative attitude towards continued sufferings of the Muslims across the world at the hands of the so-called protagonists of Islamophobia.

There have been reports of hate crimes targeting Muslims across Europe.These incidents were reported to have increased after terrorist attacks by the extremist groups such as ISIL , the right and right wing populist political parties and organizations have also been accused of fueling fear and hatred towards Muslims.

Without going into gory condemnable and tragic details, hate crimes such as arson and physical violence have been attempted or have occurred in Norway, Poland, Sweden, France, Spain, Denmark, Germany and Great Britain.

There are also reports about the fast emerging Islamophobia industry in the United States which is another somewhat burning issue.

Those associated with this industry have been prolific, producing and circulating and also re-circulating false and exaggerated information about Islam and Muslims in order to gain lucrative speaking engagements and also increasing their influence among the government circles.

Passage of the resolution by the UN General Assembly declaring March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia is the much desired and needed step in the right direction.

Pakistan had appreciated this without wasting a single moment.March 15 has since been declared as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia and the next most important question which arises here for the world at large particularly for the OIC and its member states is how to do that i.e.

what measures should be taken to curb this menacing tendency here and there.Quite obviously, the unanimous adoption of the resolution by the UN General Assembly on March 15 has set the stage for Pakistan to continue working along with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as well as the international community on developing joint strategies aiming at effectively countering the mounting threats posed by the abhorrent phenomenon of Islamaphobia.

—The writer is a retired Deputy Controller (News), Radio Pakistan, based in Lahore.


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