Delivered by Mrs. Ameirah Alhefeiti Deputy Permanent Representative
Check against delivery
We thank you for holding this important session to commemorate the International Day to combat Islamophobia. We commend Pakistan for spearheading, on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, the efforts that led to the adoption of the resolution establishing this international day.
The recent public incidents of desecrating the Holy Quran stress the need to counter intolerance and hatred against Muslims as well as avoiding further polarization at a time when the world already faces common challenges. These hateful acts, which were condemned by the UAE and the OIC, are not isolated incidents. They are a form of Islamophobia, which has been spreading around the world, and negatively impacts the lives of Muslims as well as peace and security.
I would like to emphasize here that permitting Islamophobia as an act of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable. The establishment of an international day to combat Islamophobia by consensus has shown that all member states recognize Islamophobia as a global threat. The international community must reject, condemn, and prevent these acts, which violate the freedom of religion and belief. There is also a need to take specific measures at various levels to end Islamophobia.
In this context, I would like to focus on the following three key elements:
First, fostering the values of human fraternity, such as tolerance and peaceful co-existence, is key to combat Islamophobia and build stable and peaceful communities. This is based on the experience of the UAE, as we have made these values a bedrock of our nation. Today, there are more than 200 nationalities who live side-by-side in the UAE within a peaceful and stable environment. We have also taken numerous practical steps to translate these values into practice, including by ensuring that the people of different faiths can freely practice their religions. We have also adopted legislation to prohibit all forms of religious or racial discrimination. Community-level engagement, including religious leaders, women and youth, is also critical to promote human values in both words and deeds.
Second, we must continue to promote constructive dialogue between religions and cultures, including by providing platforms and creating institutions that support such efforts. Dialogue is critical to create mutual understanding between communities and to break any stereotypes towards Islam or other religions. We note here that Islam has always called for peaceful coexistence and harmony among different peoples. The UAE has been keen to launch initiatives focusing on promoting mutual respect and dialogue between religions, such as the Abrahamic Family House, which was recently inaugurated in Abu Dhabi. The Abrahamic Family House is an interfaith complex that includes a church, a mosque, a synagogue, and an educational center, a place where different faiths can communicate and worship peacefully side-by-side. The Council of Muslim Elders in Abu Dhabi also focus on launching global initiatives that promote peace, such as the “The East-West Dialogue”, to clarify the teachings of Islam and promote peaceful coexistence.
Third, we must tackle hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation about Islam. We must intensify media campaigns and other efforts that shows the true Islamic values. Such efforts are critical as extremists and terrorist groups continue to distort religion, fuel conflicts, and spread destructive ideas that have nothing to do with Islam. Governments should also strengthen cooperation with the private sector to improve the tools of monitoring and removing harmful content online, and to prevent it from being used to spread hatred. We also need to celebrate the achievements of pioneering Muslims whose work contributed to the advancement of human civilization, contrary to what extremist groups claim.
In conclusion, despite the efforts made to combat Islamophobia, the road ahead is still long. It requires us to work consistently and tirelessly to protect our societies from extremism and fanaticism. My country will continue working with all partners and in all forums to achieve this goal.
I thank you.