International Day to combat Islamophobia | By Prof Dr Muhammad Khan


International Day to combat Islamophobia

THE first International Day to Combat Islamophobia was observed on 15 March 2023. Earlier, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution for combating Islamophobia in its 67th session, 61st meeting (AM)-GA/12408 on 15 March 2022. Pakistan gets the credit of presenting this resolution at the UN General Assembly on Islamophobia. Pakistani representative at the UN, while presenting the resolution, called for establishing the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, since Islamophobia has emerged as a new form of racism world-wide.

The outcome of the Islamophobia is prejudices and a discriminatory attitude against Muslims and Islam which includes media trials of Islam and Muslims, targeting mosques, burning of the copies Holy Qur’an, discriminatory travel bans, hate speech and the targeting of girls and women for their dress. Through this resolution, the UN and Pakistan demanded from the international community, “an expanded international effort to create a global dialogue that will encourage tolerance and peace centred on respect for human rights and the diversity of religions and beliefs.”

Indeed, the essence of Islam is peace for every human being. 15 March, was chosen by UN for observance of International Day to Combat Islamophobia in remembrance of the terrorist act of the Christchurch Mosque shootings in New Zealand. On 15 March 2019, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28 years old Australian origin killed 51 Muslims during Friday prayers in an act of terrorism. The UN General Assembly adopted this resolution for ending such types of racial and discriminatory acts against Islam and any other religion too. Nevertheless, Islamophobia is continuing unabated worldwide without any effective measures from global power centres.

The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV) in its report on Anti-Muslim Hatred and Discrimination to the 46th session of the HRC clearly stated, “Islamophobia is an exaggerated fear, hatred and hostility toward Islam and everything associated with it such as Muslims, Mosques, Islamic Centres, Holy Qur’an, Hijab and the like. It rests in the mind and reflects in attitudes, and could be manifested through violent actions, like burning mosques, vandalizing properties, abusing women wearing scarves, or insulting the Prophet or sacred symbols of Islam.”  This all is going on all over the globe including the civilized societies of the West.

The western world is considered as the architect of Islamophobia, considering Islam as the most popular and fastest growing religion in the European and American continents. Following the West, India is taking a lead role in this unholy anti-Islam and anti-Muslim campaign. The blasphemous remarks against the Holy Prophets (PBUH) by the top leaders of ruling BJP in India and earlier strategies of ridiculing Muslims through communal riots, depriving Muslims from citizenship through Citizenship Amendment Act-2019, Ghar Wapsi Programme and forceful conversion of Muslims into Hinduism are clear indications as how this campaign is reshaping to marginalize and exploit 220 million Muslim population of India.

There are perceptible nexus between those campaigning against Islam and Muslims in the West as well as in India. The primary objective of both is to contest and stop the rising popularity of Islam and increase in the number of Muslims world over, portraying them as the existential threat for non-Muslims. This is an un-natural and irrational fear, devised, moulded and disseminated among the non-Muslims to unite and steer hatred against Islam and Muslims through all possible ways and means of defamation.

The incidents of burning of the Holy Quran in Sweden, Norway and other European countries and the US represent a prejudiced mind-set which has developed in the traditionally tolerant societies of the West. The Muslim immigrants in Europe, Scandinavian countries and the US have largely contributed towards further enrichment of traditional values of this region with a visible uplift of economy and homogeneity. On their part, these countries assimilated and accepted the Muslims in their societies. There was indeed more room for excellence and talent development in the national discourses of western societies. Since the population is the same, the traditional values and culture are same, what has impacted the people who rose to the level of desecration of mosques, burning of Holy Qur’an and prejudices against Muslims.

It is a well-planned strategy and wilful act, aiming at a wider and longer design to create hatred against Islam which is the religion of peace and love. Alas! Those burnet the Holy Qur’an, could have read it; the message it carried and the teachings it imparts. The teachings of Islam began with an abiding message of peace. Peace brings harmony among the human beings. The harmony in turn purges hearts of hatred, fear and bias. Once a society reaches such a level, it would end the conflicts and wars and foster love among the masses.

Indeed, there developed an adversely negative mindset against Muslims and Islam in the Trans-Atlantic region after the unfortunate happenings of 9/11 and thereafter. The Incident of 9/11 neither benefitted nor conceived by any Islamic State or Muslims, rather it harmed the Muslims and defamed Islam.  According to American and Western scholars, the incident was part of a greater game, hence well planned and executed with a lot of perfection and professionalism to harm the Muslims and defame Islam.

The sentiments of hate against Islam, Muslims and burning of the Holy Qur’an and desecration of mosques and places of prayers in the West are indirectly defaming the traditionally tolerant western societies too. It represents the mushroom growth of an intolerant society in the West. Hundreds of thousands events of terrorism have happened in the West and America since the beginning of anti-Muslim campaign, Islamophobia.

In the wordings of UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, Ahmed Shaheed, “Islamophobia builds imaginary constructs around Muslims that are used to justify state-sponsored discrimination, hostility and violence against Muslims with stark consequences for the enjoyment of human rights including freedom of religion or belief”. There is a need that the international community must cooperate in combating Islamophobia by deconstructing the imaginary construct, it has made following the 9/11 incident.