UN Combats Islamophobia


UN Secretary-General António Guterres has repeatedly condemned the continuing acts of anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry around the world, warning on several occasions that this worrying trend targets not only Muslims but also Jews, minority Christian communities and others.

In his message for the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, Guterres warns that Muslims face institutional discrimination, barriers and violations of their human rights and dignity. “Divisive rhetoric and misrepresentation are stigmatising communities. Online hate speech is fuelling real-life violence”, he added.
Calling for a strong stance against all forms of bigotry, the Secretary-General urges leaders and individuals alike to condemn inflammatory discourse, safeguard religious freedom and promote mutual respect and understanding, while digital platforms must take a stand against hateful content and protect users from harassment.

In response to the alarming trend of rising hate speech around the world, the Secretary-General launched in 2019 the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.

The UN Human Rights Chief also voiced his alarm over the rise in global hatred, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, since the beginning of the Israeli military operation in Gaza (7October) in response to the attack on Israel by Palestinian armed group Hamas.

States have a responsibility to address any hatred based on religion or belief in a manner that complies with human rights, recalls the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Nazila Ghane, in her last report on Hatred on the basis of religion or belief.

The expert stresses that advocacy of religious hatred that leads to discrimination, hostility or violence should be prohibited by law. While international norms and standards provide a framework to combat incitement to discrimination and violence, laws are not enough, and States should also adopt policies and programmes that promote diversity and freedom of expression, especially in multicultural and interconnected societies, proposed Ghane.

Among her recommendations to the States, the Special Rapporteur proposes that countries could collect data on hate speech, take robust action against discriminatory speech, invest in trust-building, review legislation and policies and ensure no impunity for State actors who engage in hate speech.

Another report by the former UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, found that suspicion, discrimination and outright hatred towards Muslims had risen to ‘epidemic proportions’ following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and other horrific acts of terrorism purportedly carried out in the name of Islam.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution sponsored by 60 Member States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which designated 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The document stresses that terrorism and violent extremism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation, or ethnic group. It calls for a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace, based on respect for human rights and for the diversity of religions and belief.


‘No’ to Special Envoy
A Correspondent adds:
Calling India “a proud champion of Pluralism”, India’s permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj opposed the establishment of the post of “special envoy” on a special religion at the United Nations on March 15. This comes as the UN General Assembly adopted the Resolution on “Measures to combat Islamophobia” which interalia, calls for the appointment of a UN Special Envoy to combat Ilamophobia. The Resolution titled “Measures to Combat Islamophobia” was adopted by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to none against, with 44 abstentions, including India. The new measures, however, include the creation of the post of a UN High Commissioner on Islamophobia.

Back to Home Page

Vol 56, No. 41, Apr 7 - 13, 2024