Islamic states protest “Islamophobia,” “defamation of religions” in talks on racism

At the U.N. Human Rights Council today, states undertook a discussion on racism and follow-up to the 2001 Durban anti-racism Declaration. All delegations that spoke condemned contemporary forms of racism and expressed commitment to a successful outcome of the Durban Review Conference, also known as “Durban II.”

India, Slovakia, Turkey, and Morocco explicitly endorsed the latest Durban II draft outcome document, saying it is a good basis for a fruitful conference.

Algeria stated its regret that the draft “has not been able to include all the provisions.” The latest version drops explicit mention of the “defamation of religions” concept and criticism of Israel—two aspects that were important to Islamic states, but rendered the former draft untenable for most Western states.

Yemen on behalf of the Arab Group, Kuwait, Iran, and Libya discussed what they felt are unacceptable incidents of “defamation of religions.” This may indicate that they will push for re-insertion of the topic during the final round of negotiations on the Durban II declaration.

Iran lashed out at the West, noting incidents of “Islamophobia” and the “intellectual legitimization of racism, which is encouraged by certain policies.”

Libya, which serves as chair of Durban II, said that the “people of the world are eagerly” awaiting the conference’s results. It went on to make an implicit dig at Israel, saying that, today “the life of one soldier is considered to be more valuable than that of a thousand civilians.”

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