Monitoring Desk: The 8th Extraordinary Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of OIC has condemned the governments of Sweden and Denmark for constant crimes of Desecration and Burning of Copies of Holly Koran.
Welcoming the invitation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Chair of the 14th Islamic Summit, the Republic of Iraq, and the Islamic Republic of Iran to convene a virtual extraordinary session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on the repeated incidents of desecration of copies of the al-Mus’hafash-Sharif, the latest of which took place in the Kingdom of Sweden on Thursday 20 July 2023, and in the Kingdom of Denmark, on Saturday 22 July 2023 and Monday 24 July 2023, to take appropriate actions to prevent attacks and insults against the sanctities and beliefs of others and to stop the repetition of such acts of aggression that spread hatred and contempt for religions and threaten the global peace, security, and harmony.
Guided by the principles and objectives enshrined in the OIC and UN Charters and other international documents, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights;
Affirming the commitment made by all States under the UN Charter to promote and encourage universal respect for the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without discrimination based on race, gender, language, or religion;
Taking note of the official position expressed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and Denmark to the OIC Secretary-General and the condemnation of their governments of acts of abuse of copies of al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif, and welcoming the continued engagement of the Secretary-General with the governments of Sweden and Denmark for dialogue and understanding on the importance of taking the necessary and concrete measures to prevent the recurrence of such acts under the pretext of freedom of expression, and criminalize these hateful acts.
Underscoring that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression entails special duties and responsibilities in the light of Article 19 (3) and Article 20 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the role played by the exercise of those rights in countering all forms of religious intolerance;
Recalling the various resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) calling for global efforts to promote tolerance, peace, and dialogue among civilizations, primarily Resolution No. 66/167 and Human Rights Council Resolution No. 16/18 of March 2011 to address the issue of intolerance and incitement to hatred and violence on religious grounds;
Recalling UN Human Rights Council Resolution 34/36 of 24/3/2017, requesting the elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to ensure the start of negotiations on a draft Additional Protocol to the Convention criminalizing acts of racism and xenophobic nature like Islamophobia.
Recalling the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 76/254 designating15 March as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia”;
Recalling UN General Assembly Resolution A/77/L.89 on Promoting Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue and Tolerance in Confronting Hate Speech, tabled at the initiative of the Kingdom of Morocco and adopted on 25/7/ 2023.
Referring to the Security Council’s Resolution No.2686 (2023) adopted unanimously by Member States on 14 June 2023 on tolerance, international peace, and security
Also recalling relevant resolutions and declarations by the Islamic Summit Conference and Council of Foreign Ministers, in particular, the Final Communiqué of the 14th Islamic Summit, held in Makkah Al-Mukarramah, on 31 May 2019, the Final Communiqué issued at the extraordinary open-ended meeting of the OIC Executive Committee on 09 Rajab 1444 AH, corresponding to 31 January 2023, as well as the resolutions adopted by the 49th Council of Foreign Ministers, held in Nouakchott, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania on 16-17 March 2023, in particular, Resolution No. 32/49-POL on ‘Combating Islamophobia and Eliminating Hatred and Prejudice against Islam,’ Resolution No. 34/49-POL on ‘Combating Defamation of Religions’, and Resolution No. 35/49-POL on ‘Condemnation of Desecration of al-Mus’hafash-Sharif,’ and UN Human Rights Council Resolution 53/1 on “combating religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence,” adopted on July 12, 2023;
Expressing grave concern over the increasing incidences of intolerance, discrimination, and acts of violence in the world, and noting with concern that attempts to spread Islamophobia are increasing in many parts of the world, as evidenced by the increasing number of incidents of religious intolerance, negative stereotypes, hatred and violence against Muslims; as the incidents of burning copies of al-Mus’ahaf ash-Sharif aggravate intolerance and discrimination;
Welcoming the first-ever commemoration of the international day to Combat Islamophobia at the General Assembly, United Nations Headquarters in March this year;
Welcoming the holding of an urgent debate during the 53rd Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) to discuss the “alarming rise in premeditated and public acts of religious hatred as manifested by the recurrent desecration of the al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif” and adoption of HRC resolution, in line with the Communique of the Extraordinary Open-ended Meeting of the OIC Executive Committee;
Welcoming, also the recent UN General Assembly resolution on “Promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech”, by which the General Assembly strongly deplores all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as any such acts directed against their religious symbols, holy books, places of worship, religious sites and shrines in violation of international law;
Deeply concerned by the resurgence of racist movements and far-right extremism in multiple regions of the world through repeated acts of provocation by supporters of the far-right insulting Islamic religious symbols and sanctities, including the desecration of the copies of the al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif;
Condemning any advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence, whether through the use of printed means, audio-visual or electronic means, social media, or any other means;
Reiterating the importance of promoting dialogue, understanding, and cooperation among religions, cultures, and civilizations for peace and harmony in the world and that spreading the values of tolerance and peace is the best way to confront hate speech, fanaticism, extremism, violence, and incitement;
1. Strongly condemns the recent despicable acts of aggression against the sanctity of the al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif in the Kingdom of Sweden, the latest of which took place in Stockholm, the capital city of the Kingdom of Sweden, Thursday 20 July 2023, and Copenhagen, the capital city of the Kingdom of Denmark on Monday 24 July 2023, deplores the recurrence of acts of desecration of al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif and deeply regrets the continued issuance by the authorities of a permit allowing that action to occur, and the failure to take the necessary measures to prevent such acts in Sweden and Denmark.
2. Considers that not taking measures by the authorities in Sweden and Denmark to prevent the recurrence of such acts is contrary to UN Security Council Resolution No.2686 (2023) adopted on 14th June 2023 pertaining to international tolerance, peace, and security
3. Decides to dispatch an OIC delegation led by the Secretary-General to engage the Commission of the European Union to express the strong condemnation of the OIC Member States of the crimes of desecration of al-Mus’hafash-Sharif, call on them to take the necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of such criminal acts under the pretext of freedom of expression.
4. Condemns all attempts to denigrate the sanctity of al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif as well as other sacred books, values, and symbols of Islam and other religions under the garb of freedom of expression, which is contrary to the spirit of Articles (19) and (20) of the ICCPR and calls upon the international community to unanimously stand against those provocative attempts.
5. Invites the ambassadors of the OIC Member States in the respective capitals where vile acts against the copies of al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif and other Islamic holy symbols take place to collectively make efforts concerning the national parliaments, media, civil society organizations as well as the governmental institutions, to express the OIC’s stance and to induce the relevant authorities to take the necessary legislative actions to criminalize such attacks, cognizant of the fact that the exercise of freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities.
6. Calls on all the OIC Overseas Missions (New York, Geneva, and Brussels) to take the initiative to address, in the respective international organizations, which are accredited to them, these acts of hatred against Islam and its sacred symbols in the interpretation of the relevant conventions as well as the formulation of new international legal texts to this end.
7. Condemns the repeated crimes of desecration of copies of al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif, which aroused the wrath of about two billion Muslims all over the world, which represents a dangerous embodiment of the culture of hatred and racism, and a manifestation of Islamophobia, and demands the immediate cessation, and criminalization of such extremist provocative acts, and to underline the need to respect religious texts and symbols and promoting a culture of peace and acceptance of the other.
8. Calls on Muslim civil society, organizations in the Member States to team up with their counterparts to work with their counterparts in those countries where Islamophobic attacks against the copies of al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif and other sacred values take place to resort to local courts and exhaust domestic remedies, before taking their cases to international judicial bodies, where applicable.
9. Calls upon the General Secretariat to expedite the implementation of the ‘Plan of Action for Combating Islamophobia’ adopted by Ministers of OIC States Members of the Contact Group on Peace and Dialogue on the sidelines of the UNGA 74th Session in New York. It also urges the General Secretariat to exert more efforts to coordinate and cooperate with Islamic organizations concerned, in order to engage in implementing the above-mentioned action plan, in order to address the negative repercussions of Islamophobia in general more effectively, while implementing the relevant provisions of the Makkah Al-Mukarramah Document, adopted by the 48th CFM session, held in Islamabad, Pakistan in 2022.
10. Reaffirms the importance of the Eight-point Action Plan unanimously agreed upon by Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 16/18 as an essential step in the United Nations to combat incitement to hatred, discrimination, stigmatization, and violence based on religion or belief and calls on all Member States to review the progress made in implementing the action plan and making every effort to maintain the international consensus around this important OIC initiative.
11. Reaffirms the essential role of political commitment at the highest level for the full and effective implementation of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 16/18 and encourages States to pay special attention to the importance of criminalizing incitement to violence based on religion or belief while recognizing the positive and constructive role of open debate, respect, and interfaith dialogue in this regard.
12. Welcomes UNHRC Resolution 53/1 on “Countering religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence,” adopted on July 12, 2023, and stresses the need to adhere to its content.
13. Expresses its utmost appreciation to all Member States of the UNHRC that voted in favor of the UNHRC Resolution 53/1 and the countries that supported it and calls on all Member States to abide by the provisions of the OIC Charter, including Paragraph 12 of the objectives to “protect and defend the true image of Islam, to combat defamation of Islam and encourage dialogue among civilizations and religions” and Paragraph 17 of the objectives to “promote and defend the unified position on issues of common interest in the international fora,” by voting for any decision to be submitted by the OIC Group in Geneva and New York in this regard.
14. Commends UN General Assembly Resolution A/77/L.89 on “Promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech”, tabled at the initiative of the Kingdom of Morocco, and adopted on 25/7/ 2023, and stresses the need for its implementation.
15. Expresses its thanks and appreciation to the non-member states that issued statements condemning these incidents and their rejection of these Islamophobic and Xenophobic behaviors.
16. Calls on all governments to fully implement the existing legal and administrative framework or adopt new legislation, if necessary, in line with their obligations under international law, norms, and standards to protect all individuals and communities against hatred and violence based on religion and belief and to ensure the protection of places of worship.
17. Recalls the UNHRC Resolution 34/36 of March 24, 2017, in which the UNHRC requested the development of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) to ensure the start of negotiations on a draft Additional Protocol to the Convention criminalizing acts of a racist nature and based on Xenophobia, such as Islamophobia.
18. Assigns the OIC Group in New York and Geneva to continue raising and informing the concerned organs of the United Nations of the continuous violations against Islamic symbols and sanctities, which fuel hate speech and nurture extremism, including continuing efforts when necessary to issue United Nations resolutions condemning and criminalizing these attacks on copies of al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif and the heavenly books and calls for respect for religions and cultures and spreading a culture of peace and dialogue between them, similar to the UNHRC Resolution 53/1, and requesting the holding of formal and informal meetings in these bodies in this regard, after coordination between the OIC Group and the General Secretariat.
19. Instructs the OIC Group in world capitals (especially the capitals in which blatant acts against copies of al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif and other sacred Islamic symbols took place) and international organizations, especially the European Union, to take the necessary measures towards referring this statement to the ministries of foreign affairs and the concerned agencies in those countries and organizations and to clarify the gravity and consequences of persisting in insulting Islamic symbols and sanctities.
20. Calls for continuing to include “combating Islamophobia” on the OIC Group meetings agenda with countries and international and regional groupings.
21. Requests the OIC Group in New York to take the necessary measures towards referring this resolution to the relevant organs of the United Nations to issue it as an official document and to request them to include this issue on their agenda under Article (1-3) of the UN Charter, which calls for promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all people without discrimination on the grounds of sex, language, or religion.
22. Reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to take immediate steps to strengthen the Islamophobia Observatory in the General Secretariat in order to confront the urgent challenges facing the OIC in this field by transforming it into a specialized department for combating Islamophobia, and for dialogue and outreach, and merging all relevant specialized entities and activities in the General Secretariat under this Department to strengthen and unify the efforts of the General Secretariat in this regard to enable it to work effectively, and implement concrete programs on the ground, and facilitate its association with other centers and mechanisms concerned with monitoring Islamophobia in all parts of the world within available resources, and to publish its periodic reports professionally.
23. Calls for placing the issue of desecration of copies of al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif, Islamic symbols, and sanctities on the agenda of the coordination meeting of the foreign ministers of the Member States on the sidelines of the upcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the upcoming Islamic summit in the Gambia, as well as other conferences related to the Muslim world such as the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) to take more measures to address this negative phenomenon against Islam and Muslims.
24. Mandates the Secretary-General to take concrete steps to review the official framework linking the General Secretariat to any country in which copies of al-Mus’hafash-Sharif and other Islamic values, symbols, and doctrines are desecrated with permission from the authorities of the country concerned, including suspending the status of the Special Envoy.
25. Welcomes the decision of the Secretary-General to suspend the status of the Special Envoy of Sweden to the OIC in line with the final statement of the Executive Committee at its meeting on July 02, 2023, until the Swedish authorities take the necessary measures to criminalize incidents of insulting Islamic sanctities and symbols and prevent their recurrence.
26. Urges the Member States to consider taking any necessary decisions and actions that they deem appropriate in their relations with the countries where the desecration of the Holy Quran is taking place such as in the Kingdom of Sweden and the Kingdom of Denmark in the political field including recalling their ambassadors in the two countries for consultations, or in economic, cultural or other fields to express their rejection of the repeated abuse of the sanctity of copies of al-Mus’haf ash-Sharif and Islamic symbols; and commends Member States for the measures taken in their relations with Sweden and Demark in the context of denouncing this crime.
27. Expresses its appreciation to the Government of the State of Kuwait for its efforts to promote Islamic principles and values, and in this context, commends the decision of the Council of Ministers of the State of Kuwait, mandating the Public Authority for Care with Printing and Publishing Copies of the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s Sunnah and its Sciences, to print 100,000 copies of the Noble Qur’an, translated into Swedish for distribution, in coordination with Islamic centers in Sweden (Kuwait).
28. Calls for holding an ordinary Meeting of the OIC Executive Committee on Islamophobia to assess the vile attacks against Muslims and Islamic sacred symbols thoroughly, including the desecration of al-Mu’shaf ash-Sharif, and to follow up the conclusions and decisions of the previous meetings of the Executive Committee and the Council of Foreign Ministers, in coordination with the General Secretariat and in consultation with the Member States”
29. Requests the Secretary-General to implement paragraph 9 of Resolution No.68/48-POL by appointing a Special Envoy on Islamophobia within the existing sources to lead the collection effort on OIC’s behalf.
30. Calls on the UN Secretary-General to appoint a special rapporteur on combating Islamophobia.
31. Reaffirms the necessity of the active contribution of the Islamic countries in the process of forming the norms, rules, and regulations of ICT environment at the international level. Stress the necessity of responsibility and accountability of digital platforms and cross-border internet service providers regarding the prevention of and countering the promotion of Islamophobia, hate speech and insulting the religious and cultural sanctities of nations.
32. Calls for taking appropriate legal action against hate speech and hateful content, leading to imminent incitement to violence, both offline and online which may result in insulting and threatening people for their religious belief, as well as institutions, holy books, and religious symbols.
33. Calls on the General Secretariat to assign its missions in New York, Geneva, and Brussels to coordinate with the OIC Group in these cities and the organizations in which the OIC is represented to hold conferences or seminars dealing with dialogue between religions, cultures, and peoples, which may also be held between international, European and non-Islamic NGOs, wishing to deepen their knowledge about Islam and its teachings.
34. Invites the General Secretariat to organize events on the International Day to Combat Islamophobia at its headquarters and in countries where anti-Islam attacks occur to raise awareness at the global level and mobilize the Member States and potential partners to combat Islamophobia most effectively, as well as on the sidelines of 78th UNGA.
35. Requests the Secretary-General to follow up on the implementation of this Resolution and submit a report thereon to the next Ministerial preparatory meeting before OIC Summit on 16-17 December 2023.