International Day to Combat Islamophobia

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has decided to designate March 15 as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia” each year.

The OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) has passed a resolution in this respect in their meeting in Niamey, Niger.

Pakistan had introduced the resolution which expresses concern that Islamophobia, as a contemporary form of racism and religious discrimination, was on the rise.

The Resolution, passed unanimously, expresses concern that Islamophobia, as a contemporary form of racism and religious discrimination, was on the rise.

"It also expresses deep concern at the recent incidents of desecration of the Holy Quran and reprinting of caricatures of the Holy Prophet which hurt sentiments of more than 1.8 billion Muslims around the world," the statement said.

The Resolution decided to designate 15 March as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia” each year. It authorized the OIC Permanent Missions in New York to jointly table a Resolution in the UN General Assembly, calling for the establishment of this day.

Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who led Pakistan’s delegation to the CFM, said that adoption of the Resolution was a reflection of the sentiments of billions of Muslims who respected other religions and expected similar respect for Islam and the Holy Prophet.

Islamophobia is a rising trend, Turkish FM says

Speaking at the 47th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Niger's capital Niamey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu pointed out the rising trend of Islamophobic, racist and anti-migrant discourse, especially in Europe.

"However, migrants and Muslims continue to contribute to their communities. A recent example is the development of the COVID-19 vaccine by two Turks living in Germany," he said, referring to scientists Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci.

Saying that Europe lacks visionary leaders and that some of the current ones even dare to reform Islam, he pointed out that the peace and well-being of millions of Muslims in the West are being threatened under the guise of counter-terrorism.

As an example, Çavuşoğlu recalled how French police officers arrested children and held them for over 11 hours in Albertville, France on false allegations of "apology of terrorism."

"We must be awake to this dangerous rhetoric and actions and we should send a clear message regarding our red lines," he added.

Noting a growing misperception that the Palestinian issue is no longer at the top of OIC countries' agenda, Çavuşoğlu warned that Palestine's enemies could take advantage of the situation if member states do not strengthen their unity.

"If we cannot unite on the cause that lies at the foundation of this organization, how can we defend the unity of Ummah [or Muslim communities] who will take our word seriously?" he added.

Çavuşoğlu stressed the need to speak up for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Uyghurs, Rohingyas, Turkish Cypriots, the Turkish Muslim minority in Greece, the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Muslims in Europe and the rest of the world.

Insulting someone's faith not freedom: Erdoğan

Insulting people's beliefs has nothing to do with freedom, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, decrying rising anti-Muslim sentiment in Western countries.

"You have been closely following the meanness in France toward the Prophet (Muhammad) under the label of 'freedom of thought,'" Erdoğan said in a video message to the 23rd annual convention of the Muslim American Society on Saturday.

"Insulting people's holy figures is far from freedom. Because the thought is different, the insult is different."

Stressing that ideological fanaticism has gained more ground, Erdoğan said those who encourage insults against the prophet and those who ignore attacks on mosques are trying to hide their fascism.

Underlining that they use freedom of thought and the press while attacking sacred values, he said they cannot tolerate even the slightest criticism of themselves.

Describing Islamophobia as a disease that spreads faster than the coronavirus, Erdoğan said: "Cultural racism, discrimination and intolerance have reached levels that cannot be concealed in countries that for many years have been hailed as cradles of democracy."

Highlighting that Islamophobia and xenophobia have turned into a trend that guides state policy and makes daily life difficult, Erdoğan said the marginalization of Muslims due to their beliefs, language, names or attire has become ordinary in many countries.

He said Turkey, which strives to prevent ethnic and sect-based conflicts, does not hesitate to respond if anyone targets their sacred values.

"We are trying to follow a balanced, fair and self-confident policy that will set an example for all humanity, especially regarding religious freedoms. We do not interfere with anybody's beliefs or lifestyle, and we guarantee the freedom of worship of all our citizens living in the country," he added.

— Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America ( email: asghazali2011 (@)