Pakistan highlights rising Islamophobia at UN event

Reaffirms commitment to promoting religious tolerance at International Day of Human Fraternity


APP February 05, 2021
Ambassador Munir Akram. PHOTO: APP/FILE

UNITED NATIONS:

Pakistan has reaffirmed its commitment to promoting religious tolerance, understanding and cooperation at home and abroad at a virtual event held to commemorate the first-ever International Day of Human Fraternity. The day was observed on Thursday.                

"A recent manifestation of this commitment is the opening of Kartarpur Corridor, the world's largest Gurdwara, allowing easy access to our Sikh brothers from the neighborhood and all across the world," Pakistan Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Aamir Khan said.      

"It is in our enlightened interest to respect each other's religions, avoid denigration of religious symbols and personalities, eliminate religious discrimination, and combat incitement to violence, including its contemporary manifestation Islamophobia," he added.

The designation of February 4 as the International Day of Human Fraternity is the result of a UN General Assembly resolution adopted in December. The resolution was co-sponsored by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).          

In his remarks, Aamir Khan said while globalisation had brought people closer and increased interdependence, it has also spawned divisions and frictions among and within societies.      

"We are also witnessing global resurgence in intolerance, discrimination, racism, negative stereotyping, and violence against persons, on the basis of religion or belief," he said, pointing out that Islamophobia is particularly on the rise.       

"In many places, including in our own region," the Pakistani representative said, "Covid-19 has aggravated the clash of cultures and religions, inciting new waves of violence."

He said the problem continues to grow – partly by the rise in populism breaking down previous societal checks against hate speech, and partly by mainstreaming of hatred, contempt and hostility through unregulated social media.

Referring to the "Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and living Together" signed in 2019 in the UAE by Pope Francis and Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmad al-Tayeb, he said the document provides with a clear blueprint for promoting acceptance and respect of religious and cultural diversity through interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

"This is essential for creating an environment conducive to building peaceful, just and inclusive societies. In a way, the values and principles espoused by the document on human fraternity are fully aligned with the goals and objectives of the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)," a platform for improving cross-cultural relations.”

In a message to the commemorative event, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for more commitment towards promoting cultural and religious tolerance.

"Around the world, deep-seated discrimination, acts of intolerance and hate crimes persist against people simply because of their religion or belief, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation," he said.          

Describing these "vile acts" as an affront to human rights and UN values, he underscored how cultural diversity and freedom of belief are part of the "rich tapestry" of humanity.   

High Representative for the UNAOC Miguel Ángel Moratinos said observing an international day of human fraternity is needed now more than ever before, considering the deplorable fragmentation of our world today.

“We are not only facing the ramifications of a pandemic, but also the contagious virus of hate, discrimination and racism. The antidote or best antibodies to hate is human fraternity, which embodies compassion, solidarity, unity and mutual respect," he said.

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