The UN has adopted a resolution proposed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Pakistan to designate March 15 the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
The resolution was adopted three years to the day since a right-wing extremist murdered over 50 Muslims in a New Zealand terror attack on two mosques.
It means that the day will be cemented as an annual reminder of the need to combat Islamophobia.
The resolution was introduced last week by Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram, on behalf of the OIC.
“Islamophobia is a reality. Its manifestations hate speech, discrimination, and violence against Muslims are proliferating in several parts of the world,” he said.
“Such acts of discrimination, hostility and violence towards Muslim individuals and communities constitute grave violations of their human rights and violate their freedom of religion and belief. They also cause great anguish within the Islamic world.”
Akram cited the words of the UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, who said: “Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, institutional suspicion and fear of Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim has escalated to epidemic proportions.”
Women and girls have often found themselves at the sharp end of this hatred, said Akram, adding: “The gender aspect of Islamophobia is also gaining prominence, with girls and women being targeted due to mode of their dress and the general notion that Muslim women are oppressed and thus must be liberated.”
“It is particularly alarming these days, for it has emerged as a new form of racism characterised by xenophobia, negative profiling and stereotyping of Muslims,” he added.
He warned that Islamophobia is a “poorly understood” phenomenon that often intersects with anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment.
As such, he said, it is “essential” to promote information about this “disturbing global trend” that can reach the very top of governments in many parts of the world.
The resolution recognises “with deep concern the “overall rise in instances of discrimination, intolerance and violence, regardless of the actors, directed against members of many religions and other communities.”
It maintains terrorism “cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group,” and calls for “strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels.”