UN adopts resolution against violence based on religion, beliefs

Turkey FM says Islamophobia, racism go hand in hand; Pakistan highlights drastic consequences of stigmatising people

News Desk April 03, 2019
Pakistan's UN Representative Maleeha Lodhi addresses a UNGA session. PHOTO: Twitter

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Wednesday adopted a resolution strongly condemning continuing violence and acts of terrorism targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities, based on or in the name of religion or belief.

The resolution, titled 'Combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief', was presented by Turkey and co-sponsored by countries including Pakistan.

By the terms of the resolution, the UNGA condemned "in the strongest terms the heinous, cowardly terrorist attack aimed at Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand".

The assembly also urged all states to protect and promote freedom of religion and belief and to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect.

Introducing the resolution, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the international community must stand up against the spiral of hate. "Islamophobia and racism go hand in hand," he said.

Rejecting the actions of reckless politicians who "use distorted historical narratives and toxic conspiracy theories to equate Islam with terrorism", he quoted the poet Rumi who said, “Listen with ears of tolerance, see with eyes of compassion, speak the language of love.”

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Pakistan's representative, Maleeha Lodhi, said increasing anti-Islam sentiments were threatening global peace. She asserted that Pakistan has and will always support efforts to bring nations and religions closer.

Noting that nine victims of the Christchurch attack hailed from Pakistan, Ambassador Lodhi said profiling and stigmatising people from one country leads to drastic consequences.

Speaking in explanation of position before the vote, the representative of New Zealand welcomed the focus of the text on strengthened international efforts on a global dialogue to foster a culture of tolerance, diversity and peace.

"New Zealand is humbled by the outpouring of support from the international community and particularly grateful to the global Muslim community who stood with us during these dark days," he said.

Canada’s delegate recalled the attack in a Quebec City mosque two years ago and said that when violence like this occurs, whether in mosques, churches, synagogues or on the streets, it must be called what it is: neo‑Nazism, white supremacism, Islamophobia, and anti‑Semitism.

The representative of Israel said the negotiation process on the resolution could have been more inclusive and transparent and condemned acts of violence against any person based on belief or religion.

The European Union’s delegate said that “attacks on places of worship are attacks on all of us who value diversity”, adding that sensitive issues require careful consideration and the deliberations on the draft were “somewhat compressed”.

The representative of Saudi Arabia noted that terrorist elements are spreading their message through electronic and social media, while the representative of Malaysia said lack of knowledge about other communities is contributing to the growing xenophobia.

Iran’s delegate said that measures such as a Muslim travel ban and the use of the term “Islamic terrorism” are ways of encouraging Islamophobia, while the representative of Kazakhstan called for dialogue between civilizations.