CAIRO - Amid hostile sentiments against Muslim minorities in several Western countries, the world's largest Muslim group has called for concerted effort to stop growing campaigns against Muslims and their faith around the globe.
"Islamophobia is on the rise," Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said in a statement on Saturday, May 5.
"In fact, it has entered the third phase."Europe Discriminates Against MuslimsMuslim TV Counters Islamophobia
Ihsanoglu said in the first phase, Islamophobes used freedom of expression as a pretext to promote hatred of Muslims.
"During the second phase, there were attempts to institutionalize hatred against Islam and Muslims," he said.
"In Switzerland, for example, the government conducted a referendum on constructing minarets on mosques, which resulted in banning minarets."
In 2005, a Danish newspaper published 12 drawings of a man described as Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), including one wearing a bomb-shaped turban and another showing him as a knife-wielding nomad flanked by shrouded women.
The cartoons, considered blasphemous under Islam, were reprinted by several European newspapers on claims of freedom of expression, straining Muslim-West ties.
Following the cartoons crisis, Muslims in Denmark and worldwide took many initiatives to remove widely circulated stereotypes about Islam in the West.
Last month, the OIC announced plans to launch a satellite channel to fight Islamophobia and promote the true image of Islam.
Established in September 1969, the OIC is the second largest international organization after the UN.
The 57-member organization aims at promoting solidarity among Muslim countries.
The Muslim grouping has denounced the anti-Muslim hatred as an affront to human rights.
"As such, Islamophobia is an affront to the human rights and dignity of Muslims," the organization said.
Anti-Muslim sentiments have been on the rise in several Western countries.
In the United States, hostility against Muslims has sharply grown over anti-Islam rhetoric used by Republican candidates to lure votes.
In Britain, far-right groups as the English Defense League and the British National Party (BNP) use immigration problems to stoke sentiment against Muslims.
In Germany, hostile sentiments against Muslims have grown, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.
A recent poll by the Munster University found that Germans view Muslims more negatively than their European neighbors.
Anti-Muslim sentiments have also risen over attempts by Elysee hopefuls sought to court far-right votes.
Last month, Amnesty International accused European governments of discriminating against Muslims, denying them the right to build their worship places.
The London-based group said several European countries have made policy decisions in recent years that discriminate against their Muslim citizens.It singled out Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland for particular criticism.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net