Pakistan calls for combating Islamophobia on first-ever International Day of Human Fraternity

Pakistan has reaffirmed its commitment to promoting religious tolerance, understanding and cooperation at home and abroad at a virtual event held to commemorate the first-ever International Day of Human Fraternity, observed on Thursday.

“A recent manifestation of this commitment is the opening of Kartarpur Corridor, the world’s largest Gurdwara, allowing easy access to our Sikh brothers from the neighborhood and all across the world, ” Ambassador Muhammad Aamir Khan, deputy permanent representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, said.

“It is in our enlightened interest to respect each other’s religions, avoid denigration of religious symbols and personalities, eliminate religious discrimination, and combat incitement to violence, including its contemporary manifestation Islamophobia, ” he added.

The designation of February 4 as the International Day of Human Fraternity is the result of a UN General Assembly resolution adopted in December, which was co-sponsored by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In his remarks, Aamir Khan said while globalization had brought people closer and increased inter-dependence, it has also spawned divisions and frictions among and

within societies.

“We are also witnessing global resurgence in intolerance, discrimination, racism, negative stereotyping, and violence against persons, on the basis of religion or belief, ” he said, pointing out that Islamophobia is particularly on the rise.

“In many places, including in our own region, ” the Pakistani representative said, “Covid-19 has aggravated the clash of cultures and religions, inciting new waves of violence.”

That problem, he said, continued to grow — partly by the rise in populism breaking down previous societal checks against hate speech, and partly by mainstreaming of hatred, contempt and hostility through unregulated social media.

In this context, he highlighted the 2019 signing of the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and living Together” in Abu Dhabi between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayeb.

“We believe that the document provides us with a clear blue print for promoting acceptance and respect of religious and cultural diversity through interreligious and intercultural dialogue, ” Aamir Khan said. “This is essential for creating an environment conducive to building peaceful, just and inclusive societies.”

“In a way, “, he added, “the values and principles espoused by the document on human fraternity are fully aligned with the goals and objectives of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), ” a platform for improving cross-cultural relations.

In a message to the commemorative event, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for more commitment towards promoting cultural and religious tolerance.

“Around the world, deep-seated discrimination, acts of intolerance and hate crimes persist against people simply because of their religion or belief, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation”, he said.

Describing these “vile acts” as an affront to human rights and UN values, he underscored how cultural diversity and freedom of belief are part of the “rich tapestry” of humanity.

The High Representative for UNAOC, Miguel Angel Moratinos said, “Observing an international day of Human Fraternity is needed now more than ever before, considering the deplorable fragmentation of our world today. We are not only facing the ramifications of a pandemic, but also the contagious virus of hate, discrimination and racism”.

“The antidote or best antibodies to hate is human fraternity, which embodies compassion, solidarity, unity and mutual respect.”