March 15th declared International Day to Combat Islamophobia

President of the 76th UN General Assembly Abdulla Shahid | Photo: Twitter/Abdulla Shahid

New York, USA – The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted a resolution on Tuesday, setting March 15th as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

The resolution proposed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was adopted two years to the day since a right-wing extremist murdered over 50 Muslim worshipers in a terror attack in two New Zealand mosques.

It was introduced by Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram on behalf of the OIC, and was passed by the consensus of the 193 member body to mark 15th March as an annual reminder of the need to combat Islamophobia.

The resolution, which was supported by the Maldives as well, asks all countries, U.N. bodies, international and regional organisations, civil society, private sector and faith-based organisations “to organise and support various high-visibility events aimed at effectively increasing awareness of all levels about curbing Islamophobia,” and to observe the new International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

“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.”

In his speech, Akram also quoted 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.”

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 adoption of the resolution follows years of discussion about the need for an international day to combat Islamophobia, initiated in Makkah in 2019 following the New Zealand mosque attacks.