Alert: Activities of IHRC at the 7th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (Geneva)

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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3 April 2008

Alert: Activities of IHRC at the 7th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (Geneva)

Contents
1. Parallel events
2. Statements
3. Interview

1. Parallel events

‘Parallels between new and old forms of racism – the case of Islamophobia’
On Thursday the 20th of March IHRC held a parallel event at the UN Human Rights Council (the Council). Mr Diène, the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, and Arzu Merali, IHRC Head of Research, spoke at this event. Mr Amiri Vahid, Deputy Observer of the OIC, was the chairman.

Mr Diène spoke about the history of Islamophobia and how it manifests itself. He said that just like anti-semitism and Christianophobia, Islamophobia is a reality. The Special Rapporteur urged for the recognition of the gravity of Islamophobia and the intellectual legitimisation of Islamophobia.

Ms Merali spoke about the rise of Islamophobia in the UK and its many manifestations. After her speech the floor was opened for questions. (Turn out was extremely good, with both state delegations and civil society representatives in the audience, the event was a success)

‘Durban Review Conference 2009: Its meaning for Civil Society?’
Arzu Merali, Head of Research, presented a paper at this parallel event organised by Interfaith International. The paper entitled ‘Women of colour after Durban’ discussed the problems that exist around women of colour within women movements and how this could be addressed by Durban II.

2. Statements

Statement on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

On the 19th of March the IHRC made a statement to the Council. IHRC asked the Council to take into account, when reviewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, the increase of incitement to racial, ethnic and religious hatred. IHRC urged the Council to enable the mandate to address such issues effectively.

Statement during Intercultural Dialogue on Human Rights
On the 18th of March, during the Intercultural Dialogue on Human Rights, Massoud Shadjareh, Chairman of IHRC presented a statement in response to what the panel had discussed. He raised the issue of double standards in the implementation of human rights with regards to Muslims.

Statement on the mandate of the Independent Expert on Minority Issues
On the 18th of March IHRC joined a statement presented by International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism. It reiterated the critical importance of the mandate of the Independent Expert for promoting the rights of some of the most vulnerable communities worldwide and it urged the Council to renew and strengthen the mandate.

Statement regarding the report of the Independent Expert on Minority Issues
On the 13th of March IHRC joined a statement presented by Minority Rights Group International. It welcomed the report and commended the Independent Expert for her work. The statement reiterated that the discriminatory denial or deprivation of citizenship is a serious problem affecting minority communities in all regions of the world.

3. Interview with VRT (the Flemish public broadcasting organization in Belgium)

Arzu Merali, Head of Research, and Karin Lindahl, UN Liaison Officer, were interviewed at the UN in Geneva by VRT. The interview explored the issues of racism, Islamophobia, discrimination and the increase of prohibitions on the headscarf in Belgium. Ms Lindahl gave an account of the growing trend of prohibiting the hijab by public institutions in Belgium, and the human rights implications of such prohibitions. Ms Merali contextualised the hijab bans by different institutions in Belgium within the rise of Islamophobia in Europe.