Remarks by the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Coordination Meeting of Foreign Ministers
New York – 22 September, 2022
Your Excellency, Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Chair of ACM,
Your Excellency, Mr. Hissein Brahim Taha, OIC Secretary-General,
Your Highness Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and OIC Summit Chair Representative,
I warmly thank the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for inviting me to participate in your annual meeting. I am truly honored.
At the outset, I wish to echo the sentiments expressed by the distinguished speakers who preceded me on the adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution proclaiming 15 March an International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The resolution is truly significant.
I was particularly pleased that the resolution referred in its preamble to my Press Statement “A call for mutual respect” which my office issued in April 2020 in reaction to the heated debate in Europe about the freedom of expression and the right to insult religions as a form of exercising free speech.
There is a deep concern about 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, antisemitism and Christianophobia and prejudices against persons of other religions or beliefs.
Attacks on religious sites and places of worship are particularly disturbing because places of worship are symbols of our shared humanity, history, and traditions.
Therefore I was also very pleased that the same resolution referred to the protection of places of worship in OP2 calling for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and for the diversity of religions and beliefs, and strongly deplores all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief and such acts directed against their places of worship, as well as all attacks on and in religious places, sites and shrines that are in violation of international law.
It would be stating the obvious to say that all forms of discrimination and racism degrade people’s dignity and our common humanity.
Such vile acts diminish us all as a society. They are affronts to the values enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states the promotion and protection of human rights including freedom of religion and belief.
Before concluding my remarks I would like to underscore the importance of standing against attempts to associate acts of violence or terror with certain religions.
It is not religion that causes violence.
It is individuals who choose to espouse violence, wrongfully and cynically invoking faith when perpetrating their vile acts.
I remain committed to work with you to stem out Muslim bigotry and discrimination based on religion or belief. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations offers you its global platform to achieve that goal.