India asks UN to directly oppose Hinduphobia, bigotry targeting Sikhism, Buddhism

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United Nations, Dec 3 (IANS) India has called on the UN to take a direct stand against Hinduphobia and violent bigotry targeting the Sikhism and Buddhism.

“This August body fails to acknowledge the rise of hatred and violence against Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism,” Ashish Sharma, a First Secretary in India’s UN Mission, told the General Assembly on Wednesday during a debate on the culture of peace.

“We fully agree that anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia and anti-Christian acts need to be condemned and India firmly condemns such acts,” he said while referring to the draft resolution on the “Freedom of Religion or Belief”.

But he said that “UN resolutions on such important issues speak only of these three Abrahamic religions” which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam that trace their origins to Jewish prophet Abraham.

“Why this selectivity?” Sharma queried.

“The shattering of the iconic Bamyan Buddha by fundamentalists, the terrorist bombing of the Sikh gurudwara in Afghanistan where 25 Sikh worshipers were killed and the destruction of Hindu and Buddhist temples and minority cleansing of these religions by countries, calls for condemning such acts against these religions also.

“The UN is not a body which should take sides when it comes to religion,” he added.

The draft resolution that named only the three Abrahamic religions was sponsored by 33 European countries that are predominantly Christian, and none of the Islamic countries or Israel joined in sponsoring it.

The draft was approved last month by the Third Committee which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues.

The draft resolution said the General Assembly “recognises with deep concern the overall rise in instances of discrimination, intolerance and violence” and specifies only “cases motivated by Islamophobia, anti-semitism and Christianophobia”.

It also includes a phrase referring to only “prejudices” against “persons of other religions or beliefs” giving the impression that members of non-Abrahamic religions do not face intolerance or violence.

Similar resolutions have been adopted at least since 2006 mentioning only the three religions, although some earlier ones had added references to Arabs, indigenous people, and people of Asian and African descent.

Sharma said: “Overall, Hinduism has more than 1.2 billion, Buddhism has more 535 million, and Sikhism around 30 million followers. It is time that attacks against these religions are also added to earlier list of the three Abrahamic religions when such resolutions are passed.

“Culture of peace cannot be only for Abrahamic religions. And as long as such selectivity exists, the world can never truly foster a culture of peace.

“India is not just the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, but is also the land where the teachings of Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism have taken strong root and where the Sufi tradition of Islam has flourished. Today, every one of the world’s major religions has a home in India.

“For millennia, India has provided shelter to waves of those persecuted in foreign lands, and allowed them to thrive in India.”

Setting out an area of difference with Abrahamic monotheism and quoting Swami Vivekananda, he said: “We believe not only in universal toleration but accept all religions as true.”

The “historical tradition of Inter-cultural dialogue in India has drawn upon our quest for knowledge, a willingness to question, as well as a desire to learn. Thus, for instance, the Buddha urged his followers not to accept his beliefs without questioning them”, Sharma added.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)

–IANS

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