The European Union, Canada, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United States co-organized a High Level Forum on Combating Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hatred at the United Nations headquarters. The event took place on Tuesday (17 January) and sought to voice concerns about the rising wave of discrimination and violence, specifically targeting Muslim populations in Europe and worldwide, and look for joint responses.
The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, stressed that “when one minority comes under attack, everyone’s freedom is at stake. When people are discriminated because they are Muslims, or Jews, or for their ideas – it is not only a violation of their human rights, but an attack against the very fabric of our societies. This is true in Europe just like everywhere else: only inclusive societies can be strong and resilient.” The EU was also represented by Special Representative for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Commission Coordinator on Combating anti-Muslim hatred, David Friggieri, and the Coordinator of the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup, Alfiaz Vaiya.
The forum opened with messages from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson, and representatives from the EU, the USA, Canada and the OIC. The participating diplomats, civil servants and representatives of non-governmental organizations all emphasized the need to combat discrimination and hatred against Muslims, which they see as a key part of efforts to uphold universal rights. The main message of the event was to promote diversity as a richness instead of a threat, to fight against all forms of discrimination, and to build bridges between different communities. Organizers and participants agreed that all stakeholders must work together to offer holistic responses – across entire societies – to discrimination and hatred at the international, regional and national levels.