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Islamophobia ‘major threat to democracy,’: Turkish envoy to UN

The Turkish Ambassador to the UN said Friday that Islamophobia has become a “major threat to democracy” and desecration of the holy Quran and mosques is “on the rise.” 

Addressing a special event to commemorate International Day to Combat Islamophobia, organized by Pakistan and the UN General Assembly, Sedat Onal said “Islamophobia is a real and a rising threat.”

Noting that Muslims increasingly face “systemic practices of denial of freedom of religion, hate crimes and various manifestations of Islamophobia,” he said: “It goes hand-in=hand with the rising tide of populism and polarization that tend to dominate political discourse in many countries.”

“Islamophobia has now become a major threat to democracy as it feeds racist and xenophobic tendencies,” said Onal.

“As a result, desecration of the holy Quran and mosques, as well as violations of freedom of manifestation of religion are on the rise,” he said.

Noting the recent “despicable attacks” perpetrated by “anti-Islam instigators in Europe against the Holy Quran,” he said the acts are “blatant displays of hatred, intolerance, xenophobia and discrimination.”

“Allowing these abhorrent acts can never be justified under the pretext of freedom of expression,” said the Turkish ambassador said.

He urged the UN General Assembly to stand together against Islamophobic discourse and actions and call out “any injustice we witness” and defend democracy and human rights.

Among the other steps that need to be taken “collectively” are promoting Islamic civil values, combating radicalism and condemning intolerance, incitement and harassment based on ethnic origin or religious belief, according to Onal.

“We can make a difference if we can achieve unity and solidarity in both word and deed,” he said.

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