Speakers at conference in Istanbul call for political will and comprehensive strategy to defeat the scourge of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Two-day conference in Istanbul aims to identify practical ways to protect and promote the rights of Muslim people and other minorities, organisers say.
Two-day conference in Istanbul aims to identify practical ways to protect and promote the rights of Muslim people and other minorities, organisers say. (AA)

Speakers at an international conference in Istanbul have commended Türkiye, Pakistan and Malaysia for their relentless efforts against the scourge of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crimes, with Ankara offering to share its "knowledge and experience" with other members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). 

"As an organisation (OIC), we need to work together, increase collaboration and use our platform more effectively," Türkiye's deputy justice minister Yakup Mogul told a conference on Wednesday. 

Muslim nations need to support people who are facing discrimination around the world, he told delegates gathered to discuss human rights violations faced by Muslims, adding Türkiye was ready to "share our knowledge and experience" with other OIC countries.

"If we don’t take steps, it would get worse," Mogul said, referring to the occupation of Palestine's lands and Myanmar’s brutal uprooting of ethnic Rohingya Muslims.

The two-day event is jointly hosted by Türkiye's justice and foreign ministries and the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of OIC.

Responding to Islamophobic incidents in Europe, he said: "We should not allow Europe to become a place that is not peaceful for Muslims" while calling for "effective" UN and OIC systems.

READ MORE: Tracing the roots of modern-day Islamophobia

Legal safeguards

Haci Ali Acikgul, the chairperson of the OIC's IPHRC, said the Muslim bloc and its human rights body have remained vocal in "condemning hate-motivated acts against Muslims around the world, from Palestine to Kashmir, Nagorno Karabakh, India, Sri Lanka, France, New Zealand, Central African Republic, and Myanmar."

Islamophobia, he said, has "transformed into a systematic anti-Muslim rhetoric of right-wing extremists propagated to achieve well-defined political gains."

Acikgul said the IPHRC has proposed a comprehensive anti-Islamophobia strategy for the OIC, but given the scale of the challenge "efforts of the OIC and IPHRC alone are not enough."

"It requires concerted collaborative efforts by states, civil society, intelligentsia and media," he noted while praising the leadership of Türkiye, Pakistan and Malaysia for their "laudable efforts that provided a sense of direction and required political impetus to the ongoing efforts at the global scale."

"We support their call for instituting legal safeguards aimed at protecting the sensitivities of all religious groups and galvanising OIC's collective efforts to project the true image of Islam and its message of peace and tolerance," he said.

Acikgul said Islamophobia has "transformed into a systematic anti-Muslim rhetoric of right-wing extremists propagated to achieve well-defined political gains."

Studies show that far-right and anti-Muslim movements have gained ground around the world, especially in Europe as the refugee crisis has triggered nationalism across the continent.

READ MORE: Islamophobia in Europe is at a 'tipping point', new report warns

Palestinian official highlights discord within OIC

"There is inconsistency in our positions and actions as the members of the OIC are not acting in unison," said Ammar Hijazi, Palestine's assistant minister for multilateral affairs, while decrying the decision of some nations to normalise ties with Israel.

However, he stressed that "we seek solutions based on respect, dialogue and harmony," calling for solidary and support for the Palestinian people.

People of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) "are victims of double standards and discrimination at a larger scale," said Huseyin Isiksal, special adviser to the TRNC president on international relations and diplomacy.

However, he asserted that Turkish Cypriots "will never give up our rights (as) we are not a minority but equal to Greek Cypriots."

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

READ MORE: Erdogan: Racism, Islamophobia remain major problem for Turks in Europe

Source: AA