International Day to Combat Islamophobia

On the 15th of March every year, the world observes International Day to Combat Islamophobia. On this day, we acknowledge the pressing and intensifying issue of Islamophobia, which is further fueled and amplified by persistent and damaging stereotypes that perpetuate and generalize negative attitudes towards Muslims globally.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on 15 March 2022, sponsored by 60 Member-States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which designated 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

The ICYF-ERC has a central role to play in raising awareness of Islamophobia in OIC geography. We are using different tools and platforms to struggle against Islamophobia. Education is a powerful tool for promoting mutual understanding, breaking stereotypes, and dispelling misconceptions about Islam and Muslim society. By providing accurate information about Islam and Muslim society, we can challenge negative narratives and promote greater understanding and respect.Muslims themselves are also another effective solution to fight against Islamophobia. This includes the contributions of Muslims to Western society in the fields of science, technology, literature, and art. By promoting positive narratives, we can challenge negative stereotypes and contribute to creating a more inclusive and tolerant society. Another effective solution to fight against Islamophobia is to promote inter-religious forums, cultural exchanges, and interfaith dialogues between different cultures and religions in order to present the Muslim beautiful culture to the rest of the world.

As an International Organization, we firmly believe that governments and NGOs can facilitate dialogue and engagement between Muslims and non-Muslims. This can be achieved through interfaith events, cultural festivals, and other activities that promote mutual understanding and respect. Unfortunately, sometimes one can witness government-supported Islamophobic acts. For example, in 2009, Swiss voters enacted a law to prevent the construction of minarets, a key part of Islamic houses of worship (mosques). In 2010, France made it illegal to wear a face covering in public, a law whose clear target was preventing Muslim women from wearing traditional coverings like the niqab. Many far-right politicians, for instance, in the Netherlands, are openly Islamophobic in their beliefs and efforts and have stoked popular resentment for their political gain.

One of the Muslim youth activity directions, particularly in the Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum (ICYF) and its Eurasian Regional Center, is against Islamophobia. In November 2008, in Baku city, the ICYF together with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan, CoE, ISESCO, and the European Youth Forum organized a conference devoted to the topic of struggle against Islamophobia, which was the first international event devoted to this problem. ICYF and its Eurasian Regional Center, together with such international organizations as the UN, CoE, etc., have been taking active part in various international platforms, such as the Global Youth Movement for Alliance of Civilizations, whose one of the goals is the struggle against Islamophobia since 2007. As such, ICYF-ERC urges all states to commit themselves to ensuring that the rights of all minority religions are respected, protected, and justice is served to perpetrators of hate crimes towards these minorities.