The European Union, together with Canada, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United States, co-organized at the United Nations headquarters a High Level Forum on Combating Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hatred on January 17 in New York.
The Forum sought to voice concerns about the rising tide of discrimination and violence specifically targeting populations of Muslim origin in Europe and worldwide and look for joint responses.
According to The EU’s High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini, “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 event 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 EU was 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, also addressed the Forum.
Ambassadors, civil servants and non-governmental organizations all underlined that combating discrimination and hatred against Muslims was an essential part of efforts to uphold universal human rights.
The Forum’s main message 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 – religious and otherwise. Organizers and participants agreed states, international institutions and non-governmental organizations must work together to offer holistic responses – across entire societies – to discrimination and hatred at the international, regional and national levels.