India on Tuesday lashed out at double standards in fighting religious phobias and also the trend of turning a blind eye to the “anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias”. Addressing UN Security Council, Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedheeran said that such double-standards encourage those propagating such phobias. According to the minister, while anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia figure often in speeches by UN officials and many members states, there is a silence on bigotry targeting some other religions.
Muraleedharan said: “Our inability to even acknowledge these atrocities and phobias only gives those forces encouragement that phobias against some religions are more acceptable than those against others.”
Delivering speech on the debate, “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Diversity, State Building and the Search for Peace”, Muraleedharan said, “If we chose to be selective about criticising such phobias or ignoring them, we do so at our own peril.”
He further said, “While we have condemned anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Christianophobia, we fail to recognise that there are more virulent forms of religious phobias emerging and taking roots, including anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias.”
Enlisting atrocities being perpetrated by Islamists in countries in the region, he said, “We have seen in our own neighbourhood and elsewhere the destruction of temples, glorification of breaking of idols in temples, violation of gurudwara premises, massacre of Sikh pilgrims in gurudwaras, destruction of Bamyan Buddhas and other religious iconic sites.”
Secretary General Antonio Guterres said there was a “sharp increase in the number of non-state armed groups” like rebels, insurgents, militias, criminal gangs, and terrorist and extremist groups that “coalesce around joint identities, or shared beliefs”. One of the ways of countering these trends, he said would require “implementing policies and laws that protect vulnerable groups – including laws against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The debate was presided by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council this month.
Muraleedheeran said that India offers a “unique manifestation of unity in diversity, where in spite of the convulsions caused by the partition, we still came together as one to form a democratic, pluralistic and inclusive society with our Constitution as the basic bedrock of our polity”.
Invoking the lessons taught by Mahatma Gandhi, he said: “If one were to talk about embracing diversity and inclusion, India has much to offer on how diversity of identities, whether ethnic, regional, religious, linguistic or others, can come together and live as one nation a” the common thread binding us, being the identity of being an Indian first, and all others later.”
“We believe in ethos of tolerance and understanding, practicing the age-old ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – The Whole World is One Family,” he added.