It is important that the United Nations stay above religious issues: India at the UNGA

As the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution proclaiming March 15 as the International Day Against Islamophobia, India has expressed concern that phobia of a religion is being elevated to the rank of international day, affirming that there are more and more contemporary forms of religiophobia, in particular anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias.

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, presented by Pakistan’s Ambassador, Munir Akram, under the agenda item Culture of Peace, to proclaim March 15 as the International Day to combat Islamophobia.

The resolution, sponsored by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), was co-sponsored by Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali. , Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

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Reacting to the adoption of the resolution, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador, TS Tirumurti, told the UN General Assembly that India hopes that the resolution passed ” does not set a precedent” that will lead to multiple resolutions on phobias based on selective religions and divide the UN into religious camps.

“Hinduism has over 1.2 billion followers, Buddhism over 535 million and Sikhism over 30 million spread across the globe. It is time we recognized the prevalence of religiophobia, rather than denying it. choose just one,” he said.

“It is important that the United Nations stays above such religious issues which may seek to divide us rather than bring us together on a platform of peace and harmony and treat the world as one family,” he said. he declared.

Following the adoption of the draft resolution, Tirumurti said that while India condemns all acts motivated by anti-Semitism, Christianophobia or Islamophobia, such phobias are not limited to the Abrahamic religions alone.

“In fact, there is clear evidence that over the decades such religiophobias have also affected followers of non-Abrahamic religions. This has contributed to the emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, particularly anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Buddhist, anti-Sikh phobias,” he said.

He noted that Member States should not forget that in 2019, August 22 has already been declared the International Day of Commemoration for Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, which is fully inclusive in nature.

“We even have an international day of tolerance celebrated on November 16. We are not convinced that phobia against a religion should be raised to the level of an international day,” he said.

Tirumurti claimed that these contemporary forms of religiophobia can be seen in the increase in attacks on religious places of worship like gurudwaras, monasteries and temples or in the spread of hatred and misinformation against non-Abrahamic religions in many countries.

He cited that several examples of these abound, including the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan by the Taliban, the breaching of gurudwara premises, the slaughter of Sikh pilgrims in gurudwara, the attacking of temples, the glorification of the destruction of idols in temples.

He said these contribute to the rise of contemporary forms of religiophobia against non-Abrahamic religions.

“It is in this context that we are concerned to elevate the phobia of one religion to the status of an international day, to the exclusion of all others.

Celebrating a religion is one thing, but commemorating the fight against hatred against a religion is another. In fact, this resolution may well end up downplaying the seriousness of phobias against all other religions,” Tirumurti said in his statement after the resolution was passed.

He said India was proud that pluralism was at the heart of its existence.

“We strongly believe in the equal protection and promotion of all religions and faiths. It is therefore regrettable that the word ‘pluralism’ is not mentioned in the resolution and that the authors have not seen fit to take into account our amendments to include the word ‘pluralism’ in the text for reasons they know best.

Tirumurti said that as a pluralistic and democratic country that is home to almost all the world’s religions, India has always welcomed, over the centuries, those persecuted in the world for their faith or belief.

“They have always found in India a haven of peace free from persecution or discrimination. This is true whether they are Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Jews or any other faith,” he said.

Tirumurti expressed deep concern over the increasing instances of discrimination, intolerance and violence against members of many religious communities in various parts of the world.

He underscored that it is with deep concern that India views the growing manifestations of intolerance, discrimination or violence against followers of religions, including the rise of sectarian violence in some countries.

France’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière, speaking after Tirumurti, said that by creating an international day for the fight against Islamophobia, the resolution does not respond to the concern that ” we all share the fight against all forms of discrimination”.

“Because they create a divide in the fight against religious intolerance by selecting only one religion to the exclusion of others without reference to the freedom to believe or not to believe,” he said. .

He said society is made up of diversity, with individuals practicing a variety of religions or practicing none at all.

“Should we expect the creation of days dedicated to each religion, to each degree of belief or unbelief. There may not be enough days in the year to satisfy all these requests”, said de Riviere.

The French envoy said that the text of the resolution which is submitted on Tuesday raises a number of difficulties with regard to the will to fight against discrimination based on religion or belief.

“The term Islamophobia has no agreed definition in international law, contrary to freedom of religion or belief,” he said, adding that the resolution is highly “unsatisfactory” in its current state and that none of the proposals put forward by France were accepted. in consideration.

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