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UN adopts Pakistan-backed resolution condemning desecration of religious symbols, holy books
  Date : 25-07-2024

MT Desk: The United Nations General Assembly this week adopted a resolution, co-sponsored by Pakistan, to counter hate speech and condemn attacks on places of worship, religious symbols, and holy books, as rightwing protesters set copies of the Holy Qur’an on fire in Denmark, Pakistan’s state-owned news agency reported Wednesday.

In the latest incident, a group of anti-Islam activists desecrated the Islamic scripture outside the Egyptian and Turkish embassies in Copenhagen after similar demonstrations in Sweden enraged Muslims in the last few weeks.

Such recent incidents have also prompted leaders of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a 57-member group of Muslim nations, to come together and demand European nations to prevent and prosecute such anti-religious acts.

“The resolution titled ‘Promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech’, won the approval in the 193-member Assembly amid growing acts of desecration of the holy Qur’an,” the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported, adding the resolution was presented by Morocco and backed by Pakistan.

“Strongly deploring all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as any such acts directed against their religious symbols, holy books, homes, businesses, properties, schools, cultural centers or places of worship, as well as all attacks on and in religious places, sites and shrines in violation of international law,” said the text of the resolution APP reported.

Pakistan’s Mission Counsellor Bilal Chaudhry, expressing his “profound satisfaction” over the adoption of the resolution, said the text resonated with the resolution on religious hatred, presented by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, recently adopted at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

That landmark resolution condemned “all advocacy and manifestations of religious hatred, including recent public and premeditated acts that have desecrated the Qur’an” and called for countries to adopt laws enabling them to bring to justice those responsible for such acts, he pointed out.

“Islamophobia is on the rise, with the repeated incidents of desecration of the Holy Qur’an,” Chaudhry said. “These acts are not just a provocation to the feelings of more than two billion Muslims in the world, but a step to sabotage interfaith harmony and peace.”

“Such incidents are also a manifestation of racial hatred and xenophobia, and absence of preventive legal deterrence, inaction, and shying away from speaking out encourages further incitement to hatred and violence.”

The Pakistani official at the UN mission said the text of the resolution did not seek to curtail the right to free speech but tried to underline the “special duties and responsibilities” of the international community to safeguard interfaith peace and harmony.”

A day earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also called upon governments and faith leaders across the world to “put an end to such abhorrent practices.”

“Let us not allow a handful of misguided and evil people to hurt the emotions of billions of people,” he wrote in a Twitter post.

The PM added the latest incidents of Qur’an burning had left Muslims around the world “deeply anguished” and those in Pakistan in “deep pain and distress.”

“The recurring pattern of these abominable and Satanic incidents has a sinister design: to hurt the inter-faith relations, damage peace and harmony and promote religious hatred and Islamophobia,” he added.

Separately, Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari spoke to the OIC secretary general, Hissein Brahim Taha, over the phone on Monday to condemn the anti-Islam protests in European states.

Bhutto-Zardari commended the OIC for holding an emergency ministerial meeting over the issue. Taha appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to combat and counter Islamophobia, said a statement by the foreign ministry.

“The Foreign Minister assured the Secretary-General that Pakistan stood ready to actively participate in all OIC initiatives to arrest the reprehensible tide of Islamophobia,” it added.

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