New York [US], March 16 (ANI): India expressed its concerns over a UNGA resolution to have an International Day to Combat Islamophobia on March 15 as it may end up downplaying the seriousness of phobias against all other religions, and said that it is time that we acknowledged the prevalence of religiophobia, rather than single out just one.
India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations TS Tirumurti made these remarks during the UNGA resolution on International Day to Combat Islamophobia, March 15. "We are concerned about elevating the phobia against one religion to the level of an international day, to the exclusion of all the others," Tirumurti said.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed the resolution to observe March 15 as 'International Day to Combat Islamophobia' which was introduced by Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Munir Akram on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries.
Apart from the 57 OIC countries, the resolution was sponsored by eight other countries including Russia and China.
Discouraging the phobia against one religion being elevated to the level of international day, the Indian envoy said, "Celebration of a religion is one thing but to commemorate the combating of hatred against one religion is quite another. In fact, this resolution may well end up downplaying the seriousness of phobias against all other religions."
"Let us not forget that in 2019 we have already proclaimed August 22 as the International Day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief, which is fully inclusive in nature. We even have an International Day of Tolerance observed on 16 November. We are not convinced that we need to elevate phobia against one religion to the level of an international day," he stated.
At the UNGA resolution, India hoped that the resolution adopted does not set a precedent that will lead to multiple resolutions on phobias based on selective religions and divide the United Nations into religious camps.
"It is important that the United Nations remains above such religious matters which may seek to divide us rather than bring us together on one platform of peace and harmony and treat the World as One Family," adding "India is proud that pluralism is at the core of our existence and we firmly believe in equal protection and promotion of all religions and faith. It is, therefore, unfortunate that the word 'pluralism' finds no mention in the resolution and the sponsors have not found it fit to take on board our amendments to include the word "pluralism" in the text for reasons best known to them."
India said that it has always welcomed, over the centuries, those persecuted around the world for their faith or belief. "As a pluralistic and democratic country which is home to almost all religions of the world, India has always welcomed, over the centuries, those persecuted around the world for their faith or belief. They have always found in India a safe haven shorn of persecution or discrimination," said Tirumurti.
Tirumurti expressed deep concern on the rise in instances of discrimination, intolerance and violence directed against members of many religious communities in various parts of the world. "This is true whether they were Zoroastrians or Buddhists or Jews or people of any other faith," he added.
Indian envoy raised concern over the growing manifestation of intolerance, discrimination or violence against followers of religions, including rising sectarian violence in some countries.
Tirumurti condemned all acts motivated by antisemitism, Christianophobia or Islamophobia. He said that such phobias are not restricted to Abrahamic religions only. In fact, there is clear evidence that over decades such religiophobias have, in fact, affected the followers of non-Abrahamic religions as well, he stated.
He mentioned the emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias. He noted that these contemporary forms of religiophobia can be witnessed in the increase in attacks on religious places of worship like gurudwaras, monasteries, temples etc or in the spreading of hatred and disinformation against non-Abrahamic religions in many countries.
Destruction of Bamyan Buddha, violation of gurudwara premises, the massacre of Sikh pilgrims in gurudwara, attack on temples, glorification of breaking of idols in temples etc contribute to the rise of contemporary forms of religiophobia against non-Abrahamic religions, said Tirumurti in his statement.
"Hinduism has more than 1.2 billion followers, Buddhism more than 535 million and Sikhism more than 30 million spread out around the world. It is time that we acknowledged the prevalence of religiophobia, rather than single out just one," he added. (ANI)