Islamophobia — a dangerous form of racism


Pakistan has called for redoubling efforts to halt and reverse the rising trend of Islamophobia and other forms of racial discrimination, emphasizing that “meaningful accountability of the perpetrators” must be ensured.
“Islamophobia is a dangerous form of contemporary racism, nurtured by decades of public rhetoric and policies against as well as stereotyping of Muslim communities and minorities,” Ambassador Khalil Hashmi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN office in Geneva, told the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.
In a separate speech on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ambassador Hashmi rejected any effort to legislate discriminatory and targeted measures against Muslim individuals and communities under the garb of countering terrorism in certain Western and other countries.
The Pakistani envoy made those speeches in the 47-member Council’s general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance.
Speaking for Pakistan, Ambassador Hashmi said the most visible and consequential examples of Islamophobia were evident through the steady rise of extremist right-wing Hindutva ideology in South Asian region that has targeted Muslims, Christians and Dalits, among others, through communal violence, deprivation of citizenship, attacks on religious sites, forced conversions, and prohibition of religious practices.
Violent attacks have resulted in the loss of life and economic damages, he said, voicing concern that many of the perpetrators of these crimes enjoy state patronage and protection, reinforcing a growing culture of impunity.
Pointing out that the people under foreign occupation are most vulnerable to multiple forms of discrimination,” Ambassador Hashmi said, “These disturbing trends are most vivid in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir where the neo-colonialist regime is changing the demographic structure by converting Muslim majority into a minority and effacing their distinct cultural and religious identity, in clear violation and defiance of international law.”
Speaking on behalf of OIC, Ambassador Hashmi said that the failure to combat racial discrimination, xenophobia and religious intolerance not only threatens societies but also undermines aspirations for peaceful global coexistence.
“We strongly condemn and call for ending incitement to violence through denigration of revered religious personalities and symbols by way of caricature competitions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), destruction of mosques; and ban on construction of minarets,” he said.
The OIC deplored defamation of any religion, saying using Islamophobia as a tool to boost political or media ratings, as evident in some so-called democracies, represents cumulatively a new form of institutionalized discrimination and deserves unqualified condemnation.
“The OIC registers its deep concerns over the ban on facial veils in some European countries,” Ambassador Hashmi said the recent European Court ruling that allows companies in the EU to legally bar female Muslim employees from wearing a headscarf, is tantamount to normalizing anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobia.
“These steps are further marginalizing Muslim women and depriving them of their fundamental rights and basic freedoms,” the OIC said.
The OIC values the importance of the right to freedom of expression, but stressed that this right cannot be invoked as a license to hate speech, deliberate ridicule or willful insult other people’s religion, religious personalities and sensibilities”