The 53rd Session of the Human Rights Council
19 June - 14 July 2023
Item 1: Urgent Debate
11 July 2023
Statement of Association Ma’onah for Human Rights and Immigration and Geneva International Centre for Justice
Delivered by Farah Caïdi / GICJ
Thank you president,
We welcome this Urgent Debate triggered by the latest Quran burning in Sweden.
According to the Rabat Plan of Action, limitation of freedom of expression should be contextual.
Let me outline just a few examples of the social/political context perceived by Muslim citizens in Member States here today. In France, the right to work and to practise your faith don’t mix well if you wear hijab, and as an association, the fear of being targeted as apologists for terrorism or for disrupting public order is always around the corner. As an Indian Muslim from poorer parts of society, you are at risk of being beaten by your co-citizens. In China you fear detention and your mosque being destroyed.
The problem resides less in individuals expressing their hate, more pertinently it is in political leaders who inspire this hate. In too many cases, political leaders fuel hatred through public channels, sharing to a wide audience false ideas or biassed attacks against religions.
We all have a responsibility to exercise our speech in a way that is truthful, does not provoke hatred and mistrust. States need social cohesion, and political leaders have to make it a reality.
Association Ma’onah and Geneva International Centre for Justice believe that the first key to cohesion is understanding. To truly understand we need to listen and learn from each other. What can be perceived as a mere act of freedom of expression by one person can be received as a violent blow by another. We encourage states to prioritise education, youth and intercultural dialogue to foster trust between communities. Social cohesion requires leaders to be good listeners and honest speakers.