UNITED NATIONS, June 29 (TNS): Underscoring Islam’s message of peace, a top UN official vowed to overcome the ongoing extremism, hatred, violence and conflict in some parts of the world by working together.
Speaking at a largely-attended Eid-ul-Fitr reception hosted by Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi at United Nations Headquarters in New York, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed deplored the biased media portrayal of Islam in some countries, saying Muslims are in fact the main victims of conflicts around the world.
The Islamic values of compassion, charity and purity of spirit were universal values that bind the whole human family and were also the basis of the U.N. Charter, Ms. Mohammed said.
“They are values that we hold dear and try to practice not only during Ramadan, but every day of our lives,” she told ambassadors, senior diplomats, U.N. officials, members of the Pakistani community and representatives of international news media attending the reception.
Ambassador Lodhi, who welcomed the guests, said that the month of Ramadan is a time for prayers, abstinence and reflection when Muslims re-affirm their duty to each other and to those who are less fortunate. It is the first time that the Pakistan Mission held the ‘Eid Milan’ party in the U.N. building where the President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, was the chief guest.
At the request of Ambassador Lodhi, the guests observed a one-minute silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the recent tragedies in Pakistan. Thomson, who hails from Fiji, wished “Eid Mubarak” to the distinguished guests and then delighted the Pakistanis among them when he hailed Pakistan’s victory in the ICC cricket championship at the Oval.
“Congratulations Pakistan! World champions!!” he said, as loud applause rang out. The Pakistani envoy welcomed the guests in the space reserved for the reception that was adorned by portraits of the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal as well as a reminder that Pakistan is candidate for a seat on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.
Ms. Mohammed, the deputy secretary-general, used the occasion to highlight Islamic values and to voice her disappointment at the negative portrayal of Islam. “It is particularly painful to all of us when the name of our beloved religion is misused in ways that are direct anti-thesis of the values we cherish,” she said. “We see this happening every day, in conflict zones in the Middle East, in Africa including my own country, Nigeria; in Europe, in the United States, and all over the world. But we will never allow those who commit crimes in the name of Islam, to distract us from our dedication to our faith and to the well-being of our fellow men and women.
“This has been a difficult Ramadan. Hundreds of lives– mainly Muslims — have been lost in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Nigeria, in the UK and elsewhere, As Muslims, we feel these losses very personally and painfully. Many of us may wonder how we reached this point.”
Ms. Mohammed added, “Muslims are the main victims of the violent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and the Lake Chad Basin. But those who flee war, have lost family, friends and homes, may face discrimination and even abuse when they arrive in what they hoped were places of safety. They may be mistakenly identified with the violence and hared if those who drove them away.”
She emphasized that the response to this double tragedy must be that of peace and doing no harm. “Our message, the message of the United Nations, is that we will overcome extremism, hared, violence and conflict by working together, by showing compassion and generosity to each other, and and by nurturing and cherishing the true spirit and values of Islam.”
Traditional Pakistani dishes were served and the country’s popular songs were played. Female diplomats availed of the Henna that was being applied by Pakistani interns and were thrilled to receive traditional bangles that are so popular at Eid in Pakistan.