International Day to Combat Islamophobia
As delivered by Chargé d’Affaires Courtney Austrian
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
March 16, 2023
Thank you Türkiye for raising this important issue.
I am delivering this statement on behalf of Iceland, the United Kingdom and my own country, the United States.
Muslims worldwide often face discrimination and hatred based on their religious beliefs. Last year, the United Nations declared March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. This date also marks four years since the horrific terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. On that day, 51 Muslim worshippers in two mosques died while another 40 suffered injuries.
Every person everywhere has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief, including the freedom to change their beliefs or not believe. Each person also has the freedom, either individually or in community with others, in public or private, to manifest those beliefs in worship, observance, practice, and teaching.
On this day, we call attention to people around the world who are harassed, detained, imprisoned, or even killed for identifying as Muslim, or being perceived as Muslim, practicing Islam, or converting to Islam. As the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief told the UN Human Rights Council in 2021, “institutional suspicion of Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim has escalated to epidemic proportions.” ODIHR’s hate crime report shows that anti-Muslim threats and violence, including attacks against people and on property, continue to be a problem across the OSCE region.
We will continue to advocate for respect for individuals’ ability to live in accordance with the dictates of their conscience. We will continue to speak out on behalf of those who have been denied the ability to do so and who have suffered intolerance, discrimination, and repression for doing so. As Muslims worldwide prepare for their holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting and caring for communities, we urge all OSCE participating States and institutions to work to combat anti-Muslim hatred.