Islamophobia has emerged as the gravest threat to the Muslim Ummah that has jeopardized the contours of harmony and cooperation between the west and the Muslim world. Islamophobia is a term used to describe irrational hostility, fear, or hatred of Islam, Muslims, and Islamic culture, and active discrimination against them. The observance of 15 March to combat Islamophobia intends to send a message of international solidarity and cooperation to all Islamic countries besides highlighting the challenges that Islamophobia is posing to Muslims all over the world. The designation of this Day is not only a reflection of the sentiments of billions of Muslims around the world but also of realization to build partnership among the Islamic world.
Pakistan is among the major countries that raised their voice against Islamophobia and have taken a number of initiatives to bring harmony to the Muslim world by effectively utilizing all diplomatic channels. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was the first to raise the issue of Islamophobia at the UN forum in his address in 2019 to the General Assembly and had reiterated called for international attention to address it. However, it is pertinent to mention here that the 47th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, held in Niamey, Niger, in November 2020, unanimously adopted a resolution initiated by Pakistan for the designation of 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The date is the anniversary of the infamous New Zealand mosque attacks that killed over 50 worshippers. Over the past years, Pakistan, together with other Islamic countries, pursued an extensive diplomatic process with UN Member States.
Will the upcoming OIC meeting bring any positive consequences?
Subsequently, on 15 March 2021, Pakistan extended support to members of OIC by observing the International Day to Combat Islamophobia for the first time. The government of Pakistan believes that observing the International Day to Combat Islamophobia by all OIC states is necessary to promote values of peaceful co-existence, interfaith and cultural harmony. The agenda of upcoming the 48th Foreign Ministers of OIC countries Conference 2022 is also effectively raising awareness as well as combating the rising phenomenon of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.
Consequently, Pakistan succeeded in its efforts and on 15 March 2022, the UN General Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution to declare March 15 as International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The resolution was supported by 57 OIC members, China and Russia the permanent member’s UN Security Council including eight other countries. However, the representatives of India, France and the European Union expressed their concerns that religious intolerance prevails all over the world and it addresses just Islam not any other religion. The adoption of the resolution is the biggest achievement not only for Pakistan but also for the Muslim Ummah to create awareness regarding discrimination against Muslims in the world.
Basically, the aim of Pakistan and Muslim Ummah to nominate International Islamophobia day is to unite the world not divide. Thus, International Day to Combat Islamophobia resolution draft served to achieve these objectives; it creates international awareness regarding the growing phenomenon of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred; convey a strong message that the world opposes all forms of racism and racial discrimination; believes in peaceful coexistence and interfaith/cultural harmony among all religions and convey a strong message of respect for human dignity, and reiterate our common commitment to ‘unity in diversity.
Islamophobia has increased in recent years
The curse of Islamophobia promoted through hate speech, lack of knowledge and disinformation, has caused unimaginable suffering to Muslim minorities around the world and especially in India. Islamophobia has taken many forms in India including negative profiling, mob lynchings by cow vigilantes, discriminatory laws, and attacks on women wearing hijabs and attempts to link and equate Islam with terrorism.
In IIOJK Muslims are being subjected to hate crimes and extra judicial killing at the societal level by Modi’s extremist Hindutva ideology and anti-Muslim rhetoric is increasing day by day. Islamophobia in Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOJK) is erasing Muslims by disempowering and diminishing them. Violence against Muslims is carried out through the enactment of discriminatory laws in IIOJK.
For decades, minorities groups especially Muslims in India have faced discrimination in employment and education and encountered barriers to achieving wealth and political power. They are disproportionately the victims of communal violence. This communal violence against Muslims has worsened under the Hindu nationalist BJP’s government, particularly through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Besides this, the democratic credentials of India are persuasively undermined when it comes to the only Muslim majority region of IIOJK. On 5th August 2019, the IIOJK was converted into two union territories (“Jammu & Kashmir” and “Ladakh”). Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) not only abrogated Article 370, under which the local legislature could make its own laws except in finance, defense, foreign affairs, and communications, but it also revoked Article 35A, which empowered the legislative assembly to define permanent residents and offer them special privileges such as exclusive land rights.
It did not stop here, India also imposed continuous curfew and communication blackouts. The miseries of the Kashmiri Muslims have further increased as the entire world is grappling with the pandemic of Covid-19 and Illegally Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir is no exception. It is time that the international community need to focus and pressurize India to equally treat minorities and their basic rights should be protected.
To conclude, the interreligious, inter-cultural and inter-civilizations dialogue is very important for the promotion of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Pakistan had always supported and continued to lead international efforts for building bridges between cultures and civilizations. The international community must ensure to implement this landmark resolution to combat Islamophobia.
The writer is an Islamabad-based analyst and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.