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OIC calls for urgent collective measures against Islamophobia
By Habib Shaikh
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 27 - 09 - 2010

Foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have called upon the international community to make collective efforts to prevent incitement to hatred and discrimination against Muslims and to take effective measures to discourage negative stereotyping of people on the basis of religion, faith or race, according to an official source at the OIC on Sunday.
This call was made in the declaration by the Annual Coordination Meeting of Foreign Ministers of OIC Member States on Countering Islamophobia held at the United Nations head quarters, New York on Friday.
The foreign ministers called for a global awareness on the dangerous implications of the rise of Islamophobia on world peace and security and urged the leaders of the international community to demonstrate their collective political will to address the issue with all urgency.
“We emphasize the need to develop, at the UN, including the HRC, a legally binding institutional instrument to promote respect for all religions and cultural values and prevent intolerance, discrimination and the instigation of hatred against any group or followers of any religion.”
They also called upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to set up an observatory at her office aimed at monitoring and documenting acts that lead to incitement to religious hatred, hostility and violence.
In the declaration, they extended support for all initiatives aimed at promotion of moderation, tolerance and encouraging dialogue for shunning violence and extremism, and invited the international community both in terms of policy and practice to stand against all xenophobic campaigns of fear-mongering and discriminatory measures that endanger peaceful coexistence among cultures, civilizations and nations and create a negative environment conducive to violence and violation of human rights of individuals and communities.
“We also call upon the international community to make concrete measure with a view to fostering an environment of respect for all religions,” they said.
They stressed that while considering the importance of dialogue among civilizations and expansion of relations and cooperation between the Islamic World and other cultures and civilizations, “we reiterate our commitment to continue efforts in engaging with the West in projecting the true tenets of Islam, and countering common challenges.”
However, they expressed “profound regret and deep concern” at the increasing acts of Islamophobia, growing trend of intolerance and hatred toward Muslims, and mounting number of acts of violence against Muslims in some Western societies.
According to them, the culture of peaceful coexistence and inter-communal and interreligious tolerance that the international community is trying to achieve, is under threat from marginal and extremist fanatics and from the pervasive xenophobic discourse of a minority of extremist politicians who, for the sake of domestic political gains, exploit the socio-economic difficulties faced by their societies to foment hatred against Islam and Muslims through negative stereotyping and defamation.
“We strongly believe that defamation of Islam geared toward denigrating and dehumanizing Muslims, their beliefs and sacred personalities, insults the deep-seated religious feelings, undermines their dignity and violates their fundamental human rights thus threatening the multicultural fabric of the societies,” they said, and added, “We reject all acts and attempts of distortion to associate Islam with terrorism. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Islam is a religion that implies peace by its very nomenclature. Such stereotyping leads to discrimination and poses grave and multidimensional challenges to global as well as regional peace, security and stability.”
With reference to the recent unfortunate episode pertaining to the burning of the copies of Noble Qur'an, they expressed appreciation for the strong and principled statements made by the US authorities as well as community and religious leaders and world leaders.


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