Concerned about elevating phobia against one religion to the level of international day: India at UN
India was reacting to a resolution to proclaim March 15 as International Day to Combat Islamophobia
Hope that the resolution adopted on Tuesday does not set a precedent which will lead to multiple resolutions on phobias based on selective religions and divide the UN into religious camps
India at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday said that it is concerned about elevating the phobia against one religion to the level of an international day, to the exclusion of all the others.
India’s Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador TS Tirumurti in his remarks at the Adoption of Resolution on International Day to Combat Islamophobia said there are growing contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias.
The 193-member UN General Assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution, introduced by Pakistan’s ambassador Munir Akram under agenda item Culture of peace, to proclaim March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
Reacting to the adoption of the resolution, the Indian representative 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.
“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,” Tirumurti said.
“This is true whether they were Zoroastrians or Buddhists or Jews or people of any other faith,” he added.
“Therefore, it is with deep concern that we have viewed the growing manifestation of intolerance, discrimination or violence against followers of religions, including rise in sectarian violence in some countries,” Tirumurti noted.
Stating that India condemns all acts motivated by anti-Semitism, Christianophobia or Islamophobia, he said, however, 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,” the Indian Ambassador to UN said.
“This have contributed to the emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias,” he argued.
“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 spreading of hatred and disinformation against non-Abrahamic religions in many countries,” the Indian Ambassador reasoned.
Noting that examples abound, he said that the destruction of Bamyan Buddha, violation of gurudwara premises, 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.
“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,” Tirumurti informed.
He said that it is in this context that we are concerned about elevating the phobia against one religion to the level of an international day, to the exclusion of all the others.
“Celebration of a religion is one thing but to commemorate the combatting 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,” the Indian envoy to UN explained.
“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,” he added.
“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. We need to always be inclusive, especially in the United Nations,” Tirumurti stated.
“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,” he maintained.
“It is, therefore, unfortunate that 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’s PR to UN said.
“We hope that the resolution adopted today does not set a precedent which will lead to multiple resolutions on phobias based on selective religions and divide the United Nations into religious camps,” he stated.
“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,” Tirumurti said.