Remarks by Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos,
High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations,
at the Special High-level Event to Commemorate
the International Day to Combat Islamophobia

10 March 2023, New York, Originally published on

Your Excellency Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari , Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,
Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

Thank you for inviting me to this important event. I cannot join you in person due to being in an overseas mission.

At the outset, I would like to commend the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for its successful chairmanship of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) including hosting today’s commemorative event.

I hope that this platform provided by the International Day to Combat Islamophobia would contribute to and complement other efforts aiming at a better understanding of Islamophobia and help to identify how best to address this phenomena.

The rise in Islamophobia around the world is an affront to fundamental human rights including freedom of religion or belief. Perpetuating discrimination, hostility and violence towards Muslim individuals and communities undermines their dignity and their sense of belonging to the societies in which they live.

Anti-Muslim bigotry undercuts the ability of affected Muslims to practice their faith openly and safely.

The growing manifestations of intolerance based on religion or belief can generate hatred and violence among individuals from and within different nations and may have serious implications at the national, regional and international levels.

Such manifestations include cowardly attacks on places of worship, desecration of sacred sights, burning of holy books and insulting revered religious figures.

In this context, I wish to re-iterate that respect for all religions and cultures and advancing interreligious, interfaith and intercultural dialogue are a cornerstone of UNAOC mandate.

I am very pleased the UN General Assembly Resolution: The International Day to Combat Islamophobia takes note of the “Call for Mutual Respect” which my office issued in 2021 reaffirming that all world religions espouse tolerance and peaceful coexistence in a spirit of shared humanity and calls for rejection of those who falsely and maliciously invoke religion to score political gains, create misconceptions, fuel division and spread fear and hatred.

The same resolution referred to the protection of places of worship in OP2 calling for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and for the diversity of religions and beliefs, and strongly deplores all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief and such acts directed against their places of worship, as well as all attacks on and in religious places, sites and shrines that are in violation of international law.

I wish to re-iterate my commitment to work with you to combat Islamophobia and discrimination based on religion or belief.

I thank you.