UNITED NATIONS, Jan 22 (APP): The top official for the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Miguel Moratinos, has “unequivocally” condemned the “vile” act of burning the holy Quran in Sweden on Saturday by leader of the far-right party Hard Line, saying it was an affront to Muslims.
“It is disrespectful and insulting to the adherents of Islam and should not be conflated with freedom of expression,” Moratinos, the High Representative of UNAOC , an initiative aimed at galvanizing international action against extremism, said in a statement issued at UN Headquarters in New York on Sunday.
“While the High Representative stresses the importance of upholding the freedom of expression as a fundamental human right, he also emphasizes that the act of Quran-burning, amounts to an expression of hatred towards Muslims,” the statement said.
Recalling the UN General Assembly resolution of 26 January 2021 that reaffirms that the exercise of freedom of expression carries with it duties and responsibilities, the High Representative expressed his “deep concern” at the overall rise in instances of discrimination, intolerance and violence, regardless of the actors, directed against members of many religious and other communities in various parts of the world, including cases motivated by Islamophobia, anti-semitism and Christianophobia and prejudices against persons of other religions or beliefs.
“The High Representative further stresses that mutual respect is essential for building and promoting just, inclusive and peaceful societies rooted in human rights and dignity for all,” the statement said.
“In this context,” it added, “the High-Representative recalls the United Nations Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites led by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, which provides an overarching framework and a set of recommendations including strengthening religious pluralism and promoting intercultural and inter-religious dialogue , mutual respect and understanding.”
Meanwhile, asked for reaction, Farhan Aziz Haq, the UN deputy spokesperson, told APP, “We believe all religions and cultures must be treated with respect.” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is traveling abroad. He is currently in Cape verde, the westernmost point of continental Africa.