On Wednesday, India voted in favor of a resolution proposed in the UN Human Rights Council that condemns and strongly opposes recent “public and premeditated” acts of desecration of the Holy Quran.
In a vote with 28 in favor, 7 abstentions, and 12 against, the 47-member UN Human Rights Council in Geneva approved the draft resolution “Countering religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence.”
This resolution “condemns and strongly rejects the recent public and premeditated acts of desecration of the Holy Quran and underscores the need for holding the perpetrators of these acts of religious hatred to account in line with obligations of States arising out of international human rights law” was approved with India’s vote.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Qatar, Ukraine, and Bangladesh all voted in favor of the motion. Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States were among the countries that cast no votes for the resolution.
Pakistan submitted the resolution “on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation,” in addition to Palestine.
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It called on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and any relevant special procedures of the Human Rights Council to “speak out against advocacy of religious hatred, including acts of desecration of sacred books that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence, and contribute to the process of examining gaps in national laws, policies, and practices and recommend redressive measures” within the scope of their respective mandates.
It urged countries to look at their own laws, policies, and law enforcement structures to find any loopholes that might make it harder to prevent and prosecute acts and advocacy of religious hatred that amount to incitement to discrimination, hostility, and violence.
The burning of copies of the Quran, the holy book for well over a billion people, has sparked a heated discussion, according to Volker Turk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“These and other episodes seem to have been contrived to convey disdain and inflame emotions; to dig fissures between individuals; and to incite, turning differences in opinion into hostility and maybe violence.
“A crescent, a star, a cross, a seated figure: for some, these might mean little, but for millions of people they have deep significance as the repository and incarnation of an immense history, a far-reaching system of values, the foundation of collective community and belonging, and the essence of their identity and core beliefs,” he said.
Mr. Turk said that the use of religious differences as political weapons is a problem faced by many communities. They are “merchants of chaos” who aim to split us for political benefit, and “we must not allow ourselves to be reeled in and become instrumentalized by them,” he said.
An Iraqi Christian immigrant, in an act of protest encouraged by the Sweden government, burnt the Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm on the holiday of Eid al-Adha last month, sparking outrage and condemnation around the Islamic world.