The delegates from the Human Rights Committee began their second morning consulting and reflecting about the motion “Solutions for xenophobia and islamophobia”. Xenophobia means an unreasonable hatred of foreigners or of that which is foreign or strange while islamophobia has a broad meaning and often serves as an umbrella term to encapsulate negative feelings ranging from an individual’s anti-Islam views to society-wide discrimination against Muslims.
The solution on which all delegates agreed that is the most important and most effective in fighting xenophobia and islamophobia is education. Therefore, almost every delegate came with different proposals regarding a better and uniform implementation on education. First of all, the delegate of India affirmed that this measures should focus on muslims. People must be informed about their reglion, traditions and culture. The delegation from Quatar stated that everyone has the right to receive a proper education. This means that in order to succed, we must ensure that the message we want to send is real and correct.
The delegate of Togo underlined an important point, saying that we should remind everyone all the great achievements of muslims. They are humans too and they did amazing things. Muslims translated most of the scientific works of antiquity into Arabic. Also, muslim mathematicians devised and developed Algebra. Last but not least, they treated smallpox and meningitis. Knowing them better will help not to fear them. Although it may not sound politically correct, we must work on the relations between muslims and not muslims and try turning them back into relations between people.
In order to have a compact level of education, the delegate of Algeria said that we must advertise our purpose through media. Every state should agree with this because if we want our common goals to succeed, we must come up with common solutions or at least uniform implementation. The delegation from Vietnam also stated the fact that our goals are common and we must cooperate if we want to stop the discrimination against muslims. However, we cannot deny the fact that media sometimes contributes to tense situations. That means that we have to use media in a productive way and at the same time to avoid promoting stereotypes and discrimination.
Second, where do we begin from? The answer came from the delegate of Marocco who said that that education should start at home. However, not only children must be taught about tolerance, but also adults. Therefore, growing in a safe environment would be another aspect that we must take into consideration if we want, as the delegation from Switzerland and Albania stated, to change the mindset of people regarding muslims.
Another aspect on which we need to focus through education involves cultural dialogues and inter-religious projects. For example, Islam is the second most popular religion in the world and is expected to reach by 2050 a number equal to the number of Christians. People must put aside their religious misconceptions and start learning more about each other’s culture and traditions. It will be certainly more effective if we can do this in an interactive way, throughout the entire wolrd.
All in all, changes come with people. Education has always been a major factor and working on it will bring solutions in many domains. There is now a world war against terrorism but all the delegates agreed that ignorance and poverty are its real causes. For this reason, the delegations are deeply concerned regarding education and find it as a very possible way of putting to an end all these attacks. I would like to end by a quoting a statement of the Prophet Mohammed: “The ink of the scholar is more precious than the blood of the martyrs.” It clearly shows the utmost respect that the Islamic religion has for learning.
By Justina-Alexandra Sava
HRC Press Officer