Monday, June 17, 2024

“Islamophobia has stolen lives”: UN calls for united action to combat rising Islamophobia

Amid a rising tide of anti-Muslim hate, top UN officials condemned the scourge on Friday as the General Assembly adopted a resolution to push back against it during commemorations marking the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

“Institutional discrimination and other barriers are violating the human rights and dignity of Muslims. Divisive rhetoric and misrepresentation are stigmatizing communities,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement on Friday.

“Online hate speech is fuelling real-life violence,” Guterres observed, emphasising that digital platforms must moderate hateful content and protect users from harassment.

The new resolution, tabled by Pakistan, calls for, among other things, concerted action to fight ongoing violence against Muslims and requests the UN Secretary-General to appoint a special envoy to combat Islamophobia.

The world body created the International Day through a resolution adopted following attacks on two mosques Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 51 people dead on this day in 2019.

Before adopting the new resolution, by a vote of 113 in favour to none against, with 44 abstentions, a divided Assembly rejected by a close margin two amendments proposed by a group of European nations. The proposals would have replaced key language in the resolution, including calling for a focal point instead of a UN special envoy and removing references to the desecration of the Quran.

Acts of harassment, intimidation, violence and incitement based on religion or belief have risen to “alarming levels” across the world, including against Muslims, a group of UN independent experts warned in a statement.

“Orchestrated public burnings of the Holy Qur’an are deplorable. Expressions of religious intolerance engender deep hurt and fear at individual and community levels, and must be condemned,” reads the statement.

“Across the world, we have witnessed attacks on mosques, cultural centres, schools and even private property belonging to Muslims,” said the Human Rights Council appointment experts.

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