UNITED NATIONS: Islamophobia has reached alarming levels worldwide, especially in Europe, according to Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Speaking on Monday during a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Contact Group on Muslims in Europe, on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, he urged the OIC to ask UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a special envoy, or equivalent, to focus on the issue of Islamophobia.
“What is most worrisome is that Islamophobia continues to find strong resonance in political spheres in Europe, ultimately leading to the institutionalization of Islamophobia through new legislation and policies such as discriminatory travel bans and visa restrictions,” Bhutto Zardari said.
The UN General Assembly last year adopted a landmark resolution, introduced by Pakistan on behalf of OIC countries, designating March 15 as International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
“The momentum generated by this resolution should be maintained,” Bhutto Zardari said.
“Today, one of the worst manifestations of such Islamophobia is in Hindutva-inspired India. Driven by the ideology of hate against Muslims, the (ruling) BJP-RSS regime is executing its century-old plan to obliterate India’s Islamic legacy and to transform India into an exclusive Hindu State.”
He added: “The gender aspect of Islamophobia is also gaining prominence, with Muslim girls and women being targeted due to the mode of their dress and the general notion that Muslim women are oppressed and thus must be ‘liberated,’” he said, referencing a “well-documented” rise in hate crimes against Muslims in Europe.
Bhutto Zardari said the OIC needs to further strengthen its observatory to monitor all such incidents of discrimination and hate crimes in Europe and elsewhere in the world;
He said the organization should call on the UN high commissioner for human rights and the human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe to establish an observatory to monitor acts of religious hatred, hostility and violence against Muslims and report regularly to relevant policy organizations.
Bhutto Zardari also said that OIC member states, within the framework of their bilateral relationships with European countries, should raise the issue of the challenges Muslims face and make specific efforts to secure help in addressing these issues.