Concerned over phobia against one religion to level of int'l day: India at UN
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said in the UN General Assembly that India hopes the resolution adopted "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
India on Tuesday expressed concern over phobia against one religion being elevated to the level of an international day, saying there are growing contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias.
The 193-member UN General Assembly 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.
The resolution, introduced by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), was co-sponsored by Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan and other countries.
Reacting to the adoption of the resolution, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said in the UN General Assembly that India hopes the resolution adopted "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.
“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 said.
“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,” he said.
Following the adoption of the draft resolution, Tirumurti said that while India condemns all acts motivated by antisemitism, Christianophobia or Islamophobia, 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. This have contributed to the emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias,” he said.
He noted that the Member States should not forget that in 2019, August 22 has already been proclaimed 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 said.
Tirumurti asserted that these contemporary forms of religiophobia can be witnessed in the increase in attacks on religious places of worship like gurudwaras, monasteries and temples or in the spreading of hatred and disinformation against non-Abrahamic religions in many countries.
He cited that several examples of these abound, including the destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas in Afghanistan by the Taliban, violation of gurudwara premises, massacre of Sikh pilgrims in gurudwara, attack on temples, glorification of breaking of idols in temples.
He said these contribute to the rise of contemporary forms of religiophobia against non-Abrahamic religions.
“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,” Tirumurti said in his statement after the adoption of the resolution.
He said India is proud that pluralism is at the core of its existence.
“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.”