“Stigmatisation of persons based on religion pressing human rights concern”: Ambassador Adam

Maldives Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Iruthisham Adam, has welcomed the council’s resolution to tackle Islamophobia under the framework provided by UN Resolution 16/18.

“Islamophobia and other forms of intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatisation of persons based on religion or belief is one of the most pressing human rights concerns of our time,” said Ambassador Adam.

“The problem is not new but has reached new heights in our globalised world where ideas and information, whether good or bad, moves from one country to the next, and one individual to the next, with startling ease. This, together with the fall-out from 9/11 and the War and Terror, have led to a situation where Muslims around the world face daily intolerance and discrimination,” Ambassador Adam said.

The resolution was jointly proposed by the Maldives during the 16th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

“It provides a comprehensive framework for action including awareness-raising and education, legislative steps and administrative measures,” Iruthisham said. “Most importantly, it was adopted by consensus. Only by working together, by taking action individually and collectively, can states hope to build a world where people of all faiths and religions live side-by-side in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, understanding and good-will.”

“This last point – the importance of all States working individually as well as collectively – is, we think, key. In the context of tackling Islamophobia, this means that the Maldives does expect countries, especially in the West, which are faced with problems stemming from societal intolerance and vilification of Muslim minorities, to take real and robust action in line with Resolution 16/18. But it also means that we in the Maldives, and in the wider Islamic world, must be willing to also take steps to promote a better understanding of our religion and what it stands for, and to promote dialogue with people of other faiths.”

Ambassador Adam claimed all states had a responsibility to take action against those who promoted violence in the name of religion, and said that it was important to defeat such people “in the battle of ideas.”

“For example, in the Maldives, we are working, in our new democracy, to counter act the false perception that people must make the false choice between devotion to Islam on the one hand, and the full enjoyment of human rights on the other,” she said.

“None of this is easy, for the simple reason that the Maldives does not exist in a vacuum. Rather, we are buffeted by global winds. This is why, in response to the numerous [Universal Periodic Review] recommendations we received on matters of religious tolerance, the Maldives recently announced its intention to organise, during 2012, a major international conference on progressive Sharia jurisprudence and human rights. With this conference we hope to revive the concepts of peace and tolerance, co-existence and inter-faith harmony that exist in Islam.”