U.N. Islamophobia report “divisive”

report on Islamophobia "divisive"

According to a Vatican diplomat, a United Nations Human Rights Council report on Islamophobia risks “polarising the international community”.

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič said the report highlighting Islamophobia could prove to be “divisive” because it focused on one religious group to the exclusion of others.

The report is entitled “Countering Islamophobia/Anti-Muslim Hatred to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief”.

It was presented to the council by Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

The report, which was released last week, is unsparing in its critique that governments around the world, including in the United States and China, should do more to combat Islamophobia.

Jurkovič, the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the U.N. in Geneva, expressed dismay at “the narrow scope of the report.”

“The Holy See cannot but lament that the report does not adequately consider the overall context of persecution of all people of faith (or of no faith),” he said.

While the Vatican condemned “all acts of religious hatred, discrimination and persecution … including against Muslims,” the archbishop said that highlighting one group appeared to mark “a substantial change” in approach.

In a footnote to his statement, the Slovenian archbishop noted that a 2007 Human Rights Council resolution outlining the special rapporteur’s mandate only made one reference to Islamophobia, which it set alongside anti-Semitism and Christianophobia.

“It is clear from this context that the focus is on the elimination of instances of intolerance and violence against religious groups as a whole. Individually combating Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianophobia or discrimination against any other specific group is not considered in the special rapporteur’s mandate,” he said in the footnote.

Jurkovič concluded: “It is deeply concerning, therefore, that the present report, which should defend the fundamental and universal human right of freedom of religion or belief, has been focused on a single religious group to the exclusion of others with the risk of polarising the international community and creating more conflict that may further endanger the rights this council should promote and protect.”


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