OIC Statement at the 59th Session of the Commission on Human Rights on Agenda Item 6 – Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and All Forms of Discrimination

Madame Chairperson,

I have the honour to make this statement under agenda item 6 on behalf of the Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

2. The international community had affirmed its solemn commitment to take necessary measures to eliminate all forms and practices of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and the related intolerance at the Durban Conference against Racism in September 2001. The realization of this long cherished goal hinges on effective and timely implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Despite our determination to eradicate racism, unfortunately the discriminatory practices and repression of the religious and ethnic minorities, racial and religious profiling and violations of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers continue to take place in many parts of the world.

3. The Islamic countries are seriously concerned at the slow paced follow up of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. We believe that the reports on the progress of the Working Group entrusted with the follow up to the Durban Conference need to be widely and regularly disseminated. Also important is the appointment of the independent Eminent Experts and the establishment of the Anti-Discrimination Unit in the OHCHR, as envisaged in the Programme of Action of the Durban Conference.

Madame Chairperson,

4. The Islamic countries’ contribution to the Durban Conference is well known, which was in accordance with the message of tolerance and social harmony professed by Islam and its followers. The significant increase in the incidents of violence, insults and physical assaults against Muslims and people of Arab descent following the events of September 11, 2001, and institutional targeting of the Muslim minorities is extremely disturbing for the Islamic world. In his report to the Commission, the Special Rapporteur has attested the resurgence in physical attacks and assaults against Muslims and people of Arab origin, their property and places of worship. Though generally the political leadership has made efforts to calm down these sentiments by emphasizing harmony, peace and tolerance, yet at a social level the intolerance directed at Muslims and Arabs continues unabated.

5. We also deeply regret the unjust and arbitrary regulations, imposed by many countries as part of anti-terrorism measures, to specifically target Muslims and the people of Arab descent. Such measures, in our view, do not augur well for ongoing international effort against terrorism to which Islamic countries have committed their full support.

6. Taking into account the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur, the OIC countries urge the Commission to take effective measures for implementing these recommendations and to encourage all states, especially those directly concerned by the situation of Muslims and Arabs, to take preventive measures to guarantee the full and unfettered exercise of their cultural and religious rights and the protection of their places of worship as well as to guarantee the protection of their fundamental rights including the right to equality before the law. We further endorse the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation to the Commission to keep the matter under review.

Madame Chairperson,

7. The Durban Conference on Racism had also expressed its serious concern over the increase in Islamophobia in various parts of the world and urged people to desist from derogatory language and negative stereotyping of the religions and their followers. The continuation of an intense campaign of defamation of Islam, its tenets and values, by some vested interests, is a source of great concern for the Islamic world.

8. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. It abhors extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. It believes in peaceful coexistence and meaningful interaction with other cultures and civilizations.

9. The dissemination of the views of self-proclaimed experts on Islam with their misleading and often blasphemous interpretations about Islam, the Holy Prophet and the Holy Quran has become a rampant practice in certain print and electronic media. The peaceful religion of Islam is often equated with terrorism and Muslims are projected as extremist and violent people. The Special Rapporteur in his report has made explicit reference to this campaign of public defamation of Islam and its negative impact on efforts for promotion of harmony among cultures and civilizations. We urge the Special Rapporteur that the references sent by the OIC countries in this regard may also be included in his report.

10. This virulent propaganda signifies a dangerous trend. If not ceased effectively, this would create more disharmony within and across societies. It is incumbent upon the international media to act in a responsible manner, particularly on the sensitive issues involving religion.

Madame Chairperson,

11. At Durban we had agreed on a framework of principles and actions towards a world free from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and the related intolerance. In order to eliminate racial discrimination in actual practice the international community should take concrete steps to ensure effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. We assure full cooperation of the Islamic countries to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to meet this challenge.

I thank you, Madame Chairperson,