India, while making a its stand clear at the United Nations, said that ‘double standards’ were unacceptable when it concerned religions and related issues. Furthermore, dealing with the issue should not be a ‘selective exercise’ involving only one or two religions, but should also apply to phobias against non-Abrahamic religions.
Ambassador T S Tirumurti, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, made these remarks on Friday while speaking at a high-level event. The event was held to mark the 1st anniversary of the International Day on Countering Hate Speech , titled ‘Role of education to address the root causes of hate speech and advance inclusion, non-discrimination, and peace’. This event was organised by the Permanent Mission of Morocco and the UN Office.
The strong statement came just hours before blasts in the Gurdwara Karte Parwan in Kabul’s Bagh-e Bala area on Saturday in which two persons, including a Sikh, were killed and seven others were injured.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in a tweet that the ‘cowardly attack’ on Gurdwara Karte Parwan should be condemned in the strongest terms by all.
By promoting democracy and pluralism, he called on countries to develop an educational system that truly contributes to fighting terrorism.
“As we have emphasized time and again, combating religiophobia should not be a selective exercise involving only one or two religions but should apply equally to phobias against non-Abrahamic religions as well. Till this is done, such international days will never achieve their objectives. There cannot be double standards on religiophobia,” he said.
Tirumurti has spoken about issue of religiophobia repeatedly in the past year. Earlier this year he had also pointed out in the UN that the spread of hatred and misinformation against non-Abrahamic religions can be observed as a modern form of religiophobia at the rise of attacks on places of worship, such as gurdwaras, monasteries, and temples. “The emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias is a matter of serious concern and needs the attention of the UN and all Member States to address this threat. It is only then can we bring greater balance into our discussion on such topics,” he had said .
Aside from that, Tirumurti also noted that India’s multi-cultural edifice has, over centuries, made it an excellent place to seek refuge, whether from the Jewish community, Zoroastrians, Tibetans, or the neighbourhood itself. “It is this underlying strength of our nation that has withstood radicalisation and terrorism over time,” he said.
It is with this sense of history that India has continued to play a defining role to combat radicalisation and terrorism, and promoting tolerance and inclusion, Tirumurti added
Tirumurti emphasized that education has an important role to play in combating radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism. “India has been the greatest victim of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism. We call on countries to develop an education system that truly contributes to combating them by promoting the principles of pluralism and democracy,” he said.
When the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in March declaring March 15 International Day to Combat Islamophobia, India expressed concern that phobia against one religion would be elevated to the status of an international day. It said there are growing contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias.
In response to the adoption of the Pakistan-introduced resolution, Tirumurti expressed in the UN General Assembly that India hopes the resolution adopted ‘does not set a precedent that will lead to more resolutions based on selective religions and divide a unified United Nations into religious camps.
“Hinduism has more than 1.2 billion followers, Buddhism more than 535 million and Sikhism more than 30 million spread out around the world. It is time that we acknowledged the prevalence of religiophobia, rather than single out just one,” he had said.