New Delhi: India’s recent stance at the United Nations on the international body being “selective” towards Abrahamic religions is a step towards preventing the global body from “taking sides” even as Pakistan’s Islamophobia resolution did not find favour with three out of the five P-5 countries.
In a major development earlier this week, India publicly urged the UN to also recognise violence being meted out against religious minorities such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, and not just those pertaining to the three large Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
“We have called on the UN not to take sides when it comes to religion. We call on countries not to divide the member states by bringing in a one-sided discourse or resolutions on religion, thereby politicising it,” T.S. Tirumurti, India’s Ambassador to the UN in New York, told ThePrint.
On Thursday, the 193-member UN General Assembly (UNGA) approved a Pakistan-led resolution on “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace”.
The UN resolution, which was co-sponsored by Pakistan and the Philippines, was adopted even as among the P-5 nations, the US, UK and France abstained from voting, while the remaining two — China and Russia — voted in favour.
The P-5 countries refer to the permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
Many African countries, including Niger, did not vote at all. In fact, it was Niger that hosted the foreign ministers meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) last month, which passed a resolution on Jammu and Kashmir.
Apart from France, the remaining 26 members of the European Union also abstained from voting. Some Central Asian countries were also absent.
“Due to us, Pakistan’s resolution was voted upon for the first time and got less than half the votes of the membership,” said top official, who refused to be named.
The sources also said this is “Pakistan’s agenda” to badger India over the issue of Kashmir by using such resolutions that tacitly support Islamophobia. India is also concerned that this will weaken the country’s counterterrorism efforts and cross-border terrorism, sources said.
At present, the adoption of the resolution assumes critical importance as Turkey’s top diplomat Volkan Bozkir is the President of the UNGA and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram is the President of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
“The point is if resolution after resolution at the UN single out Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and Christianophobia, then the implication, at least in the multilateral context, is that somehow these are at a higher pedestal and the others are of lesser interest,” said another source.
According to the source, India has been raising this issue with the UN for a long time and it is not something that happened “all of a sudden.”
The source also said New Delhi believes this is also one of the reasons why adoption of resolutions talking of countering violence against Abrahamic religions further “bigotry against the so-called non-Abrahamic religions” thereby enabling countries like Turkey and Pakistan to “whitewash their own serious crimes while portraying themselves as victims.”
On Thursday, addressing the UNGA session on ‘Culture of Peace’, First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN, Ashish Sharma, said, “The United Nations is not a body which should take sides when it comes to religion. If we are indeed selective, we will only end up proving Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations”.
‘A Call for Mutual Respect’
According to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the adoption of the resolution by the UNGA “is part of Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts inter alia for raising awareness about Islamophobia and countering the defamation of sacred religious personalities and symbols.”
Islamabad also thinks the resolution assumes importance due to rising incidents of “religious intolerance and racism, especially Islamophobia around the world.”
On the other hand, India has made it clear to the UN by highlighting this issue publicly for the first time. According to official sources, India has said that as a multilateral body, the UN has to “recognise all religions equally” according to contemporary times, or else the focus on attacks to religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism will get diminished by the international community.
Sources also said Pakistan’s Islamophobia resolution comes in the wake of a recent statement – A Call for Mutual Respect – given by the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Miguel Ángel Moratinos on 28 October.
In his speech, given in the aftermath of the killing of the French teacher, the Spokesperson for the High Representative said that Moratinos has expressed “deep concern” over the “growing tensions and instances of intolerance triggered by the publication of the satirical caricatures depicting Prophet Muhammed, which Muslims consider insulting and deeply offensive.”
“The High Representative stresses that insulting religions and sacred religious symbols provokes hatred and violent extremism leading to polarization and fragmentation of the society. He calls for mutual respect of all religions and beliefs and for fostering a culture of fraternity and peace,” the statement said.
Also read: 5 reasons for the crisis in global Islam
Intra-Ummah fight and Abrahamic religions
According to sources, the move by Pakistan is also an indication to a larger game plan that is being played out mainly amongst Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, guided by Qatar to take the leadership of the Muslim Ummah from the quintessential guardians of the Islamic world such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which is more aligned to the US that has given rise to an “intra-Ummah fight” deeply dividing the Islamic world.
Meanwhile, the UAE and Israel, along with the US signed the Abraham Accords on 15 September. Under the agreement, not only will the UAE and Tel Aviv establish full diplomatic ties, but Israel will also cancel its plan to annex Palestinian lands.
“We (the US, UAE and Israel) encourage efforts to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue to advance a culture of peace among the three Abrahamic religions and all humanity,” states The Abraham Accords Declaration.
The monotheistic Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – are called so since their genesis is derived from Abraham, traditionally considered to be the first Jew made an accord with God. Thus, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam recognise Abraham as their first Prophet, and are also called the Abrahamic religions.
The main aim of all the prophets was to spread “peace and maintain brotherhood and social order in the society” and all the three Abrahamic religions believed that “God and human beings can and should communicate with each other.”
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