The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted an anti-blasphemy resolution Pakistan supported, the Islamic Republic’s foreign ministry announced Thursday.
“The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution co-sponsored by Pakistan and the Philippines on the ‘Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue’ by an overwhelming majority. This resolution is part of Pakistan’s global efforts to promote interfaith harmony, tolerance, respect for each other’s religions and values, and peaceful co-existence,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a December 3 press release.
“Due to the efforts of Pakistan’s delegation, the resolution for the first time this year also acknowledges the significance and respect for religious symbols,” the foreign ministry added.
“The adoption of this resolution by the UN General Assembly is part of Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts inter alia for raising awareness about Islamophobia and countering the defamation of sacred religious personalities and symbols,” the ministry revealed.
The UNGA passed the resolution on December 2 “despite vehement opposition from the European Union and other western nations as well as India,” Pakistan’s Express Tribune reported. The formal text “received a majority of 90 votes, none against, with 52 abstentions” and was the result of “intensive lobbying” by Pakistan, according to the newspaper.
“[T]he Pakistan Mission worked hard to rally the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other developing countries to garner support for inclusion of new elements in the resolution,” the Express Tribune noted.
When introducing the draft of the “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue” resolution to the UNGA, Pakistan’s representative to the U.N., Munir Akram, referred to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s previous requests that the U.N. counter an alleged rising tide of Islamophobia globally and enforce measures to protect Muslims’ religious sensitivities.
According to the newspaper, “Ambassador Akram also emphasized on the deliberate ‘vilification and negative stereotyping of adherents of one of the largest religions in the world — Islam — only perpetuates dangerous self-fulfilling prophecies such as the ‘clash of civilizations’, and must be addressed on an urgent basis [sic]’.”
Khan urged the U.N. on September 25 to declare an “International Day to Combat Islamophobia” in a virtual address at the UNGA’s 75th annual session. The prime minister claimed in his address that an alleged rise in “religious hatred” worldwide had served to accentuate “Islamophobia.”
“Muslims continue to be targeted with impunity in many countries. Our shrines are being destroyed; our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) insulted; the Holy Quran burnt — and all this in the name of freedom of speech,” he alleged. “Incidents in Europe, including republication of blasphemous sketches by Charlie Hebdo, are recent examples [sic].”
“We stress that willful provocations and incitement to hate and violence must be universally outlawed,” Khan added.
He referred to the October 16 beheading of French school teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamic terrorist after Paty showed his class cartoon images of Muhammad published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Paty was teaching a lesson on freedom of expression when he shared the images with his students. French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Paty’s savage murder as a “blatant Islamist terrorist attack.”