UNITED NATIONS, Sep 30 (APP): Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Tuesday commended the work of the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) in advancing mutual respect for diverse cultures, traditions and religious beliefs at a virtual high-level event marking the alliance’s 15th anniversary.
In remarks to the meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance, which was set up in 2005 by Spain and Turkey under UN auspices, he said Pakistan, as its founding member, remained committed to promotion of these noble ideals at home and abroad.
Pointing to the challenges in promoting interfaith harmony and peaceful co-existence, FM Qureshi cautioned that the sounds of a “Clash of Civilizations” — a reference to the theory of American political scientist Samuel Huntington –were still reverberating around the world.
The exploitation of coronavirus-related fears to stoke racism, stigmatization, and violence against vulnerable minorities and individuals has illustrated the deep-rooted nature of prejudice and hate which continues to grow especially in states which allowed fascist politics and hate speech to prosper.
FM Qureshi also highlighted the “disturbing” rise in Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred in many parts of the world, saying that freedom of expression was not a license to allow people to deliberately disseminate racist ideas or defame and ridicule religious symbols and personalities.
In this regard, the foreign minister called for banning of hate speech and incitement to violence.
He also called for the declaration of an International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
In response to FM Qureshi’s statement, Moritonos said that fighting xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia was important for the work of Alliance of Civilization and in this regard referred to its public condemnation of the recent burning of the holy Quran in Sweden.
The UN Alliance of Civilizations was established to galvanize international action against extremism through fostering of international, intercultural and interreligious dialogue and cooperation.
The Alliance benefits from a political support of the Group of Friends, a community of countries and international organizations which actively promotes the Alliance’s objectives and work at the global, regional and local levels, as well as worldwide.
The Group is a driving force of UNAOC and plays a vital role in UNAOC’s strategic planning and implementation process.
The group currently includes 153 members, with 124 UN member states, 1 non-member state, and 28 international organizations, representing all continents, societies and cultures.