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Anti-intolerance forum condemns hatred of Islam

Stockholm: An international conference against intolerance condemned on Tuesday ‘islamophobia’ -- or hatred for Muslims -- and put it on an equal footing with violent racism, anti-semitism, xenophobia and homophobia. A declaration approved at the Stockholm International Forum: Combating Intolerance, said delegates representing some 50 governments condemned intolerance in all its aspects. ‘Racism, racial discrimination, anti-semitism, islamophobia, xenophobia, discrimination, violence and murder because of sexual orientation, and all other forms of intolerance violate basic human values and threaten democratic society,’ the resolution said. Islamophobia was first brought to the attention of a major global forum in 1994 when Jordan’s then Crown Prince Hassan urged the U.N. General Assembly to stem anti-Muslim sentiment ‘and other manifestations of islamophobia.’ Some populations in traditionally Christian Europe have grown restless amid a growing influx of refugees and migrants, many of whom are Muslims. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who attended the Stockholm conference, reiterated on Tuesday his criticism of ever tighter asylum policies imposed by some EU members.

The impression is being created that because of popular resentment towards immigrants, some governments are taking approaches which are not in strict conformity with the 1951 Geneva convention (on the treatment of refugees) and with international law,’ Annan told reporters. ‘As we move forward...Europe is going to need more and more immigrants to sustain its own economic development and I think it is right that we have the right approaches and the right policy and the right understanding of the role immigrants play in society,’ he said. Annan was referring to demographic trends in the EU bloc where ageing populations mean there will be less people of working age to support growing numbers of elderly in future. The Stockholm declaration said young people all over the world should be instilled with respect and appreciation for diversity and the conviction that intolerance is an evil that must be fought. It also expressed concern over the use of the Internet to promote intolerance and called for a voluntary code of conduct against intolerance on the Web.

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