Protecting the rights and identities of Islamic communities necessitates a balanced approach, experts said Wednesday.
Continuous monitoring and a balanced approach will ensure the protection of the communities' human rights, which is the "shared responsibility" of the Islamic nation, the experts said while addressing a two-day international conference to discuss human rights violations faced by Muslims.
The conference in Istanbul has been organized by Turkey’s justice and foreign ministries and the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
El Habib Bourane, OIC's director for Muslim minorities under the Department of Political Affairs, stressed that Islamic communities need to make positive contributions to the countries they are living in.
Urging Turkey and the OIC to step up pressure on the Myanmar regime, Reza Uddin, chairperson of the Human Rights Committee and council member of the Arakan Rohingya Union, said the military junta of the Buddhist-majority country had stepped up violations against the Rohingya.
"(We) must step up pressure on Myanmar, by all means, to permanently stop the genocidal acts and crimes against Rohingya people," Reza said.
Bourane said the human rights situation of over 1 million Rohingya refugees "continues to deteriorate."
"Myanmar must fully comply with the provisional measures issued by the International Court of Justice," he said, referring to the case of genocide brought against Myanmar by Gambia at the U.N. court.
Shabbir Ahmad Chowdhary, a Bangladeshi diplomat, said the atrocities faced by the Rohingya Muslims in their homeland are "unprecedented."
"Bangladesh extended her hand of humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya when they were brutally persecuted in their homeland and fleeing to save their lives," he said.
Bangladesh, he said, "calls on the international community to come together to ensure the safe and dignified return of the Rohingya to Myanmar."
Global Kashmiri activist Ghulam Nabi Fai asked the OIC to initiate a joint resolution at the Human Rights Council "to set up an inquiry commission on human rights violations" in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir at the United Nations' human rights body in Geneva, which is scheduled to meet from Feb. 28 to April 1.
Fai urged the OIC to persuade India to release all political prisoners unconditionally, including Khurram Parvez, Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah, Masarat Alam and Aasiya Andrabi.
"The OIC must convince the U.N. to persuade India to rescind the domicile law which is designed to change the demography of Kashmir," he said, adding the policymakers of OIC member countries "will look to solving the root cause of the problem of Kashmir, the unfulfilled promise of self-determination as guaranteed by successive U.N. Security Council resolutions."
Zamir Akram, a Pakistani expert on multilateralism and former U.N. diplomat, said the world was witnessing the "largest single most and gravest rights violations happening in India."
"Hindutva fascism has put at stake the lives of 200 million Muslims," he alleged, referring to warnings issued on impending genocide in India by U.S.-based Genocide Watch, an international watchdog on human rights violations.
"The Indian state, police, in particular, has been co-opted in this process of victimization and vandalization in violence against Muslims," he said.
Bourane said Indian Muslims were facing "major and complex challenges."
"There are calls for anti-Muslim violence, and (such a phenomenon) is moving from fringes to the mainstream," he explained, pointing to a ban on wearing headwear by female Muslim students in India, which is akin to denying their right to basic education.
"Anti-Muslim rhetoric is taken into the mainstream (in order) to reshape India into Hindu Rashtra (state)," he said.
"There is a high risk these incidents may lead to further communal tensions, perhaps to widespread violence," he warned.
Earlier, in response to the OIC taking note of hate speeches and the ban on wearing headscarves by female Muslim students, India described it as an "interference in its internal affairs."
In a statement, the Indian Foreign Ministry said issues in India are considered and resolved in accordance with constitutional framework and mechanisms, as well as democratic ethos and polity.
Hassan A. Abdein, a United Kingdom-based journalist, said the OIC and the IPHRC "should bring back international cooperation" to tackle challenges like Islamophobia.
The OIC has been successful in generating global consensus on several issues in the recent past, he said, adding: "Now is the time to forge new partnerships and pursue human rights."
Pointing to Pakistan taking the leadership of the OIC in March, he said the Islamic bloc should hold many events and activities to widen the scope of engagement.
"We must be committed to upholding human rights of Muslims everywhere and anywhere in the world," he said, stressing that in any conversation "victims must be part of the dialogue and negotiations."
Aydin Safikhanli, an IPHRC member from Azerbaijan, said Muslims "should use all international, U.N. and regional mechanisms" to solve their issues.
"To solve the problems, we must work together and work closely with international and regional mechanisms," he said.
Ambassador Tasmin Aslam of Pakistan called for "actionable steps" rather than "just statements and resolutions."
Suggesting raising the cost for states persecuting Muslims by way of boycotts, she said: "57 Muslim countries have sufficient strength to influence policies of these countries."