Stress on Islam’s message of harmony at UN Iftar by Pakistani staffers

United Nations, May 25, 2019: Top United Nations officials Friday called for promoting the values of religious tolerance, peaceful co-existence, and dialogue at a first-ever inter-faith Iftar hosted by Pakistani nationals working in the UN system to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.

“Ramadan offers all of us – Muslim and otherwise – the chance to recognize our shared values, to embrace our diversity, and to celebrate our common humanity,” the UN General Assembly President, María Fernanda Espinosa, told a large gathering of diplomats, UN officials and journalists on the lawns of UN Headquarters in New York.

Other UN officials pursuing the same theme at the event were UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adana Dieng, who represented Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Being extended to the gathering UN chief’s message of “best wishes” for a blessed month of Ramadan. Welcoming the dignitaries and participants, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi focused on Islam’s core values of compassion, tolerance, and inter-faith harmony, saying that the world body was an expression of multilateralism. “Inter-faith gatherings are much needed today when the world is beset with tensions, gaps in understanding and disharmony,” she said.

Ambassador Lodhi praised Muhammad Irfan Soomro, a senior UN official and President of the newly-formed UN staff Recreation Pakistan Club, for his initiative in forming the club and in bringing together representatives of different faiths.

On his part, Soomro said the aim of UN-Pakistan Club was to promote learning and mutual understanding among the staff of all faiths to come together and partake alongside Muslim brothers and sisters in celebrating inter-cultural exchange during the holy month of Ramadan.

In her remarks on the occasion, General Assembly President Espinosa said today’s gathering represented a “graceful defiance” of rising Islamophobia and this year’s horrific attacks against mosques, as well as churches and synagogues around the world.

“At this difficult moment for the world, it can feel as though we, too, are in graceful defiance of those who question the value of multilateralism, precisely when we need it most,” she said.

President Espinosa called for redoubling efforts to build a safer, fairer and more sustainable future for all people, everywhere. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the best solutions to an international problem emerge from thinking creatively, sharing burdens, working hand-in-hand. She said the spirit of compassion, tolerance, and mutual respect was reflected in the core values of all major religions as well as the United Nations.

“This is our mandate every day. To nurture dialogue. To promote social justice. To build peace,” the deputy secretary-general said “I thank you for being here to do just that. I wish you a blessed Ramadan.” Speaking next, Special Adviser Dieng also stressed the core values of Ramadan, saying, “At a time that we are seeing the widespread use of messages — in public discourse and the media — to incite hatred and hostility against individuals and communities, based on their identity; tonight’s Iftar demonstrates that we are ONE.

“Let then Ramadan be a moment to unite us in our common humanity, whatever religion we profess. Let us stand with all those in need, those who suffer from prejudice, discrimination, and abuse often owing to their religious belief,” he said.

“Let this holy month be a moment to strengthen our commitment to justice, equality, and compassion shared by all great faiths.” 

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