At the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in the midst of continuing protests over the anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims’, Islamic countries used the platform to unanimously ask the West to stop protecting Islamophobia in the name of freedom of expression.

Warning that Islamophobia was becoming a new kind of racism akin to anti-Semitism, Foreign Ministers of member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) adopted a declaration stating that the continuing instances of ‘intolerance, discrimination, profiling, negative stereotyping, stigmatisation, religious hatred and violence against Muslims as well as denigration of their religion, Prophet, Holy Book and symbols’’ were against international human rights norms and the principle of freedom of religions.

While appreciating condemnation of the anti-Islam film by world leaders and acknowledging the importance of freedom of expression, the declaration noted that there is also a need to ensure that this freedom is exercised with responsibility and in accordance with the relevant international human rights laws and instruments. “We further condemn any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means.’’

The declaration also recalled all relevant OIC resolutions on combating Islamophobia and eliminating hatred and prejudice against Islam, defamation of religions, and the Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on ‘Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatisation of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief’. The OIC also urged all governments to take appropriate measures including necessary legislation against such acts that incite hatred and violence against people based on their religion.

In a related statement, the Pakistan Foreign Office said the declaration that was adopted at the annual coordination meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the UNGA was sponsored by Pakistan.

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