Countering religious intolerance: Pakistan to host 8th Istanbul Process meeting in 2020

Announcement made by Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood in keynote address in The Hague

November 18, 2019
Shafqat Mahmood. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood has announced that Pakistan will host the 8th meeting of the Istanbul Process next year with a focus to evolve responses to growing religious intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.

He made the announcement during his keynote address at the 7th Istanbul Process meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, according to an official statement on Monday.

Shafqat, who is also PM's Special Representative on International Religious Freedom, drew attention to the alarming levels of Islamophobia in many parts of the world "as evidenced inter alia, by growing incidents of hate crimes, negative profiling, assaults on hijab wearing Muslim women, denigration of venerated Muslim personalities and symbols."

He cautioned against incendiary and populist rhetoric for electoral gains, often amplified by sections of the media, that served as catalyst for hate speech.

The minister called for eschewing ambivalence and double standards by flag-bearers of human rights in the face of grave human rights violations including in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which has been under curfew since New Delhi's illegal act of abrogating the region's special status on August 5.

He expressed deep concerns over the growing incidents of systematic discrimination and state sanctioned violence against Muslims in India.

Mahmood shared the range of steps taken by Pakistan in the field of education, promotion of inter-faith harmony, tolerance and freedom of religion or belief. "In this context, he highlighted the recent initiative taken to open the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor," the statement added.


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