ISLAMABAD: Despite opposition from the European Union (EU) and India, the UN General Assembly Wednesday adopted a Pakistan and Philippines sponsored resolution on inter-religious dialogue that emphasized the need to respect “sacred religious symbols”.
The resolution received a majority of 90 votes, none against, with 52 abstentions.
Protests broke out in several Muslim countries, including Pakistan, last month over French response to a deadly attack in October on a teacher who showed blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to pupils during a civics lesson.
Pakistan has condemned the recent reprinting of the cartoons. The French president has paid tribute to the murdered teacher, fueling further anger in the Muslim world.
“Facing strong opposition from the powerful western bloc mainly based on freedom of expression, the Pakistan Mission worked hard to rally the OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] and other developing countries to garner support for the inclusion of new elements in the resolution.
Islamabad’s Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram referred to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s repeated calls to the international community and the United Nations to counter Islamophobia and promote respect for religious sensitivities.
“Ambassador Akram also emphasised that the deliberate “vilification and negative stereotyping of adherents of one of the largest religions in the world – Islam — only perpetuates dangerous self-fulfilling prophecies such as the ‘clash of civilizations’ and must be addressed on an urgent basis.
“After some intensive lobbying, the resolution acknowledges — for the first time — the significance and respect for religious symbols,” the state news agency added. “It also stressed that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, and must therefore be subjected to legitimate restrictions.”
“The resolution condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to violence or discrimination,and underlines the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue as a valuable tool for promoting social cohesion, and peace and development in the world.”