International

In the aftermath of New Zealand Mosques massacre: UN General Assembly condemns Islamophobia

In the wake of the horrific attack at two New Zealand mosques, in which 50 people were killed and 50 others injured, the UN General Assembly Tuesday (April 2, 2019) unanimously adopted a resolution strongly condemning Islamophobia.

The UN General Assembly convened a special session on Tuesday to adopt the resolution.

The resolution, titled ‘Combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief’, was presented by Turkey and co-sponsored by countries including Pakistan.

The UN resolution condemned “in the strongest terms the heinous, cowardly terrorist attack aimed at Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand”.

The resolution also urged all states to protect and promote freedom of religion and belief and to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect.

Introducing the resolution, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the international community must stand up against the spiral of hate. “Islamophobia and racism go hand in hand,” he said.

Rejecting the actions of reckless politicians who “use distorted historical narratives and toxic conspiracy theories to equate Islam with terrorism”, he quoted the poet Rumi who said, “Listen with ears of tolerance, see with eyes of compassion, speak the language of love.”

Pakistan’s representative, Maleeha Lodhi, said increasing anti-Islam sentiments were threatening global peace. She asserted that Pakistan has and will always support efforts to bring nations and religions closer.

Noting that nine victims of the Christchurch attack hailed from Pakistan, Ambassador Lodhi said profiling and stigmatising people from one country leads to drastic consequences.

Iran’s delegate said that measures such as a Muslim travel ban and the use of the term “Islamic terrorism” are ways of encouraging Islamophobia, while the representative of Kazakhstan called for dialogue between civilizations.

Speaking in explanation of position before the vote, the representative of New Zealand welcomed the focus of the text on strengthened international efforts on a global dialogue to foster a culture of tolerance, diversity and peace.

“New Zealand is humbled by the outpouring of support from the international community and particularly grateful to the global Muslim community who stood with us during these dark days,” he said.

Canada’s delegate recalled the attack in a Quebec City mosque two years ago and said that when violence like this occurs, whether in mosques, churches, synagogues or on the streets, it must be called what it is: neo‑Nazism, white supremacism, Islamophobia, and anti‑Semitism.

The European Union’s delegate said that “attacks on places of worship are attacks on all of us who value diversity”, adding that sensitive issues require careful consideration and the deliberations on the draft were “somewhat compressed”.

In a message UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ welcomes the UN General Assembly resolution.

“I reiterate my own horror at the vile attack that killed 50 worshippers in [two mosques] in Christchurch, New Zealand, just a few months after the appalling shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh in the United States,” he said adding:

“The world must stand together to protect all religious sites against rising anti‑Muslim hatred, anti‑Semitism, xenophobia, racism and hate speech.  We must counter those who seek to demonize and divide.  And we must defend the freedom of religion and belief.  The United Nations is urgently working on global action plans to combat hate speech and to safeguard religious sites.”

According to the Israeli Mission to the UN, an early version of the resolution failed to mention anti-semitism and referred only to Islamophobia. Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, launched a diplomatic campaign with other states that agreed not to support the resolution if it does not mention antisemitism. “Turkey,” said the Israeli mission, “was forced to accept the position of Ambassador Danon, changed the wording of the resolution and added the term anti-semitism.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com

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