By,ABID SIDDIQUE CHAUDHRY
Prime Minister Imran Khan has been the leading international voice in raising awareness on the grave consequences of rising systematic Islamophobia and in promoting inter-faith harmony. In line with his vision, Pakistan presented a Resolution to designate 15 March as the ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’ at the 47th Session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), held in Niamey, Niger, on 27-28 November 2020. The Resolution was unanimously adopted by the CFM. The OIC is now working with the international community to commemorate this Day at the global level.
The OIC’s unanimous support for the designation of this Day is a reflection of the sentiments of billions of Muslims around the world. Pakistan, today, joins members of the OIC in observing for the first time the ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia.’ Marking this occasion, the OIC Group will hold a High-Level Event in New York on 17 March 2021.
The scourge of Islamophobia, fuelled by populism, hate speech, and lack of knowledge and disinformation, is causing unimaginable suffering to Muslim minorities around the world. Islamophobia has taken many forms including inter alia negative profiling, mob lynchings by cow vigilantes, discriminatory laws, attacks on women for wearing hijabs, ban on minarets, negative propaganda and disinformation campaigns, manifestos of far-right parties, deliberate vandalism of Islamic symbols and holy sites, and attempts to link and equate Islam with terrorism. Such acts imperil our shared aspirations for a peaceful world and harmonious future for all.
Pakistan has always supported and continues to lead international efforts for building bridges between cultures and civilizations. Through the observance of this Day, we want to build better understanding of Islam and Islamic precepts. We intend to send a message of international solidarity and cooperation. We remain determined to promote values of peaceful co-existence as well as inter-faith and cultural harmony.