ISSI commemorates Islamophobia day

ISLAMABAD: The Centre for Strategic Perspectives (CSP) at the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI) organized a roundtable discussion to commemorate the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia", on Wednesday.

DG ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood, in his welcome remarks, stated that Pakistan’s vigorous diplomatic efforts played a pivotal part in the designation of 15 March as the ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’ by the United Nations General Assembly through a unanimously adopted resolution last year, said a press release issued here.

He traced the evolution of Islamophobia as a phenomenon and its myriad manifestations -- including denigration of Islam’s most sacred personalities, desecration of the Holy Quran, and systematic social, political and economic discrimination against Muslims.

In Pakistan’s neighbourhood, an ideological agenda was normalizing anti-Muslim sentiments and culminating in discriminatory legislation and policies, he said and stressed that at a time of extreme tumult in the world, it was imperative to avoid accentuation of religious or cultural fault lines

“As we go forward, it is hoped that commemoration of this International Day worldwide would raise awareness about Islamophobia and strengthen the resolve to combat this pernicious phenomenon”, including through efforts for mutual understanding, dialogue and inter-faith harmony.

Secretary General, OIC Ambassador Hissein Brahim Taha, in his video message, said OIC commended the achievement by the United Nations, for the designation of 15 March as International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

This day would serve as a continuous reminder about the danger of violence based on religion or belief, and, at the same time, as an opportunity for the international community to reiterate its commitment to fighting xenophobia, and to promoting the values of tolerance, understanding, inter-faith harmony, and peaceful coexistence among different religions.

Director and Founder, University of Western Australia's Centre for Muslim States and Societies Dr. Samina Yasmeen, in her online speech, said that Islamophobia represented a false sense that Muslims were outside the system and their rights do not matter; this can have generational impacts, particularly on children.

Dr. Yasmeen underscored the importance of building “partnerships” to foster better mutual understanding and combat Islamophobic attitudes.

Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, Geneva Ambassador Khalil Hashmi remarked that the triggers of Islamophobia and targeting of the Muslim community predates the attacks that took place in Christchurch on 15 March 2019.

He said that Pakistan played a lead role in raising awareness about this issue and the need to counter it for several years on international platforms.

“The international commemoration of this Day will hopefully bring about a change in the normative framework with regards to the Muslim community,” he added.