ISLAMABAD: Days after Prime Minister Imran Khan called on the United Nations to declare an international day to combat Islamophobia in his General Assembly address, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday reiterated the demand urged the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to declare an “International Day to Combat Islamophobia”.
In his address to the 75th session of the UNGA last week, Imran — while denouncing the recent publication of blasphemous caricatures by Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly best known for vulgar irreverence — had urged the global body to universally outlaw the rising Islamophobia in many countries including India.
Addressing a virtual meeting of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations, Qureshi noted willful provocations and incitement to hate and violence had been classified by the UN as “universally outlawed”.
The forum is an initiative to build respect among people from different cultures and faiths, as well as to provide a platform for bridging divisions and overcoming prejudices.
Qureshi warned of a “global resurgence” of intolerance, discrimination, racism, hate speech and violence based on religious beliefs.
The alliance is a political initiative co-sponsored by Turkey and Spain after being founded in 2005 by then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Praising Turkey and Spain for co-sponsoring the Alliance of Civilisations initiative and organising the meeting, Qureshi said fears of the global novel coronavirus pandemic that served to stoke racism and stigmatisation demonstrated how deep-rooted the problem of Islamophobia is.
“In many places, including in our own region, the pandemic has aggravated the suffering of people due to negative religious stereotyping,” he said.
“We Muslims live our religion. Understanding must be shown for the pain and anguish caused to Muslims when Islam and its prophet are insulted,” the top diplomat said.
Urging member countries of the initiative to outlaw willful provocations and incitement to hate and violence, he requested that the UNGA build a “resilient coalition to end the scourge,” Qureshi demanded.
“Respecting each other’s religions and beliefs, not ridiculing them; constructive engagement and not estrangement. Let us work together for building a peaceful world where different civilisations and cultures co-exist in harmony and on the basis of mutual respect,” he added.