India on Monday condemned in the strongest terms the recent "cowardly attack" at the Sikh temple in Kabul, Afghanistan and said it's time that the UN Member States condemned hatred against non-Abrahamic religions as well.On Saturday, Islamic State attacked Karte Parwan Gurdwara in which two people were killed and several others got injured. Gunmen had tried to storm the temple on Saturday morning and all were killed after a standoff that lasted several hours.Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), India's Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ambassador TS Tirumurti raised concerns about the "selective" efforts to combat religiophobias.
"And on 18th June, a couple of days ago and on the very day we commemorated the International Day for countering hate speech, we saw yet another tragic example of this against Sikh religion, this time in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Gurudwara Karte Parwan was attacked, desecrated and damaged. We condemn in the strongest terms this cowardly dastardly attack where lives were tragically lost," said Tirumurti at the informal High-Level Meeting to mark the commemoration of the first International Day for Countering Hate Speech.
"It's time that UN Member States condemned hatred against non-Abrahamic religions as well and stop from being selective in combating religiophobias. There cannot be double standards on religiophobias if you truly want to combat hate," he added.
The Indian envoy said hate speech is the antithesis of peace, tolerance and harmony.
"Unfortunately, we continue to witness a rising trend in hate speech. This was particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. India joined 12 other countries to issue a cross-regional statement on 'infodemic' in June 2020."
He said India has time and again emphasised that combating religiophobia can never succeed if it continues to be exclusionary and remains restricted to one or two religions only, while completely ignoring the rise in hatred and discrimination against non-Abrahamic religions including Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism.
The permanent representative said India believes that a society based on principles of democracy and pluralism provides an enabling environment for diverse religions and communities to live together.
"Today, every one of the world's major religions has a home in India, making it a nation of unparalleled diversity. India has, over centuries, provided refuge to all, whether Zorastrians or the Jewish community or Tibetan Buddhists or many from our own neighbourhood," Ambassador Tirumurti said.
"Through embracing both democracy and pluralism, India has promoted a culture of tolerance and respect for all religions and cultures - under our overarching constitutional framework. Aberrations are dealt with within our legal framework and we reject selective outrage from outside, especially when they are motivated and pursuing a divisive agenda as we just heard today, references against India by OIC," he added.
India's permanent representative said there can be no doubt that terrorism is the antithesis of all religions and added New Delhi has continued to play a leading role to combat both radicalization and terrorism.
Stating that the UN has the responsibility to ensure that countering hate speech and discrimination should not be limited to a select few, the envoy concluded his address by quoting Mahatma Gandhi: "I want cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.
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