Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan during the General Assembly meeting to adopt of the resolution entitled “Combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief” (2 April 2019)

Madam President,

Let me at the outset join others in expressing Pakistan's strongest condemnation of the horrendous Islamophobic terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, on March 15 in which fifty precious lives were lost.

Nine of the martyrs were from Pakistan. One of them, Naeem Rasheed, a dedicated teacher, tried heroically to stop the terrorist to protect the others. His son too perished in the attack.

And he was not alone. There are many other stories of similar heroism and courage.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and survivors of this cowardly terrorist attack. We also express our solidarity with the people and Government of New Zealand, and salute Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, for her exemplary leadership in the face of this tragedy.

As one of the core sponsors of this resolution, we welcome Turkey’s initiative.

Madam President,

The Christchurch terrorist attack cannot be seen in isolation. It was only the latest manifestation of a growing phenomenon - a phenomenon rooted in hate, bigotry, racism, and the extremist ideology of racial and white supremacy.

The rise of extreme nationalist and populist ideologies in liberal Western democracies and elsewhere, including in our region, are fanning the flames of bigotry, intolerance, anti-Muslim hatred and xenophobia.

Tellingly, the growing prejudice against Islam is becoming increasingly commonplace – it is evident in policies aimed at creating walls and barriers against displaced populations, as much as in attempts to denigrate Islamic beliefs and our sacred personalities on the pretext of freedom of expression.

Pervasive Islamophobia is a global phenomenon and calls for a global response: collaborative, coherent and committed action against incidents that fuel, funnel and fortify this narrative against Islam and Muslims.

Madam President,

The political falsehood of equating people of different religions with violent extremism, in order to garner political support for the forces of hate lies at the heart of this phenomenon.

We know all too well that profiling of an entire people and community can have catastrophic consequences, and stigmatization can produce equally dangerous consequences for social stability and peace

Freedom of expression has often been used as an excuse to enable vile expression to prosper and for hate speech to enter the mainstream.

The Christchurch tragedy has also shone a disturbing light on the role of the social media, which is increasingly regarded as one of the most radicalizing instruments of our era.

It is time that we evolve ways to ensure that social media companies are held accountable for their content that incites violence or spreads hatred. They should ensure that their platforms are not exploited by terrorists and used for the dissemination of harmful and hate-filled messages.

Madam President,

As a contemporary form of racism, Islamophobia poses a grave threat to global peace and security. We must unite against those who seek to divide us by inciting violence by stereotyping people on the grounds of belief, and by using hate speech and defaming religions.

We must strengthen efforts to foster a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance, dialogue and peace at all levels. This must be based on respect for human rights and diversity, and encourage space for diverse voices, religions, worldviews and faith traditions.

The adoption of the resolution today is a strong manifestation of our shared commitment to stand united against racial and religious hatred.

My country is committed to continuing our efforts to build bridges of understanding and challenge and resist those who seek to construct walls of bigotry and hatred.

We look towards all those who believe in humanity’s common future, to help in evolving a consensus for action to combat the forces of Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism.

I thank you.