NEW YORK: At the United Nations, Pakistan has raised the concern of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Countries over the denigration of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by India’s ruling party’s leaders, and slammed the defamation of Islamic holy personalities and religious symbols.
The concern was raised by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Munir Akram while speaking on behalf of the OIC Countries at a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York on Countering Hate Speech.
The following is the joint statement delivered by Ambassador Munir Akram on behalf of the OIC Member States on International Day for Countering Hate Speech;
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the OIC Group except Albania.
The OIC joins the international community in commemorating the first ever international day for countering hate speech in pursuance of the General Assembly resolution A/75/309.
This resolution, which was presented by the Kingdom of Morocco, marks an important milestone in advancing global efforts to address and counter this scourge. It is indeed a day to promote inter-religious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech and recognizing the need to counter all kinds of discrimination and xenophobia.
Hate speech is on the rise worldwide. In the words of the Secretary-General: “Hate Speech is in itself an attack on tolerance, inclusion, diversity and the very essence of our human rights norms and principles. More broadly, it undermines social cohesion, erodes shared values and can lay the foundation for violence, setting back the cause of peace, stability, sustainable development and the fulfillment of human rights for all”.
The devastating effects of hate speech are sadly not new. However, the scale and impact of hate speech is amplified today by new technologies of communication, so much so that hate speech has become one of the most frequent methods for spreading divisive rhetoric and ideologies on a global scale.
If left unchecked, it can erode peace and development, since it creates the conditions for conflicts, religious tensions and wide scale human rights violations, and can be a precursor for atrocity crimes.
While hate speech has proliferated across the globe, the OIC is particularly alarmed at the sharp rise in Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred in many parts of the world.
Recalling the recent statements issued by the OIC on “Republishing of Abusive Cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, by French Charlie Hebdo Newspaper”, “Burning of Copies of Holy Qur’an during Anti-Muslim Demonstrations in Sweden” and “Denigration of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by India Ruling Party’s Official”, and other similar acts, the OIC remains concerned about willful provocations and defamation of Islamic holy personalities and religious symbols.
Such Islamophobic acts hurt the sensitivities of over 1.5 billion Muslims and constitute a gross abuse of the right of freedom of expression. They also reinforce extremist narratives.
Islam advocates social equality, peaceful co-existence and inter-faith harmony. It also prohibits discrimination on any ground. The Holy Quran states: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.”
With such clear injunctions, the OIC group unequivocally condemns the practice of insulting Islam, Christianity, Judaism and any other religion alike, and stands against all acts of hate and violence on the basis of religion or belief. The willful provocations and incitement to hate and violence must be universally outlawed.
On this Day, the OIC calls on the international community to display a collective resolve to confront all manifestations of hate speech including xenophobia, intolerance and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief, and work together for promoting inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence. That is the spirit behind the OIC’s initiative which led to the UN General Assembly’s designation of 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. This is a moment for all of us to come together and reverse the tide of hate and bigotry that threatens to undermine solidarity, peace and cooperation among and within nations.
I thank you.”