By EKMELEDDIN IHSANOGLU
The horrific and tragic incident that happened in Norway reminds us again of the importance of combating religious intolerance and promoting cultural understanding.
Anti-Islam and anti-Muslim attitudes and activities, known as Islamophobia, are increasingly finding place in the agenda of ultra-right wing political parties and civil societies in the West in their anti-immigrant and anti-multiculturalism policies, as was evident in the manifesto of the Norway killer. Their views are being promoted under the banner of freedom of expression while claiming that Muslims do not respect that right.
A few days before the Norway attack, on July 15 in Istanbul, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United States agreed to a united stand on “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief” through the implementation of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18.
The meeting – cochaired by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and myself, with the attendance of the EU high representative for foreign affairs together with the foreign ministers and officials of OIC member states and Western countries, as well as international organizations – reaffirmed the commitment of the participants to the effective implementation of the measures set in the resolution.