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High-Level Event in commemoration of the International Day to Combat Islamophobia

The Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in New York convene a high-level virtual event to commemorate the first ever "lnternational Day to Combat lslamophobia" aimed at effectively raising awareness as well as combating the rising phenomenon of lslamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.
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Underlining that “diversity is a richness, not a threat”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for greater investment in promoting social cohesion and tackling bigotry in a message on Wednesday to mark the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

“We must continue to push for policies that fully respect human rights and religious, cultural and unique human identity”, he said in a pre-recorded video broadcast during a commemorative event held online, organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“As the Holy Quran reminds us: nations and tribes were created to know one another.”

Nearly 60 countries are members of the OIC, which designated 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

The Secretary-General cited a recent report to the UN Human Rights Council which found that suspicion, discrimination and outright hatred towards Muslims has risen to “epidemic proportions”.

Following a fall-out in relations between many Muslim countries and some Western nations in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States - and subsequent attacks in London, Madrid and Bali - the Organization established the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) in 2005.

Miguel Ángel Moratinos, the current UNAOC High Representative, recalled the initiative was launched as a “political soft power tool” whose objectives include promoting mutual respect among diverse cultures and religions.

“Despite progress made in building bridges of understanding through the promotion of intercultural and interfaith dialogue, manifestations of anti-Muslim hatred persisted and morphed into different forms”, he said.

“Islamophobia cannot be seen in isolation from the worrying increase in xenophobia and hate speech against minorities including immigrants and other faith communities.”

For the President of the UN General Assembly, Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir, any form of discrimination, including based on religion or belief, “is a deeply personal attack”.

He urged countries to recommit to the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other related instruments, expressing hope that they will lay the foundation for national laws to end hate speech and hate crimes.

“Today our conversation is focused on Islamophobia, but the source of this scourge is a source that imperils us all.  The answer is solidarity, equality, and respect for the equal dignity and entitlement to fundamental human rights of every individual”, he said.

Mr. Bozkir added that protecting people from extremism requires a global strategy that includes defeating all forms of violent ideologies.

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