Qatar Charity (QC), in cooperation with United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), held a high-level panel discussion titled ‘Countering Islamophobia: The Role of Non-State Actors’ to mark the UN International Day to Combat Islamophobia. A good number of UN officials, academia, experts, and those concerned with countering Islamophobia took part in and attended the event.
The discussion featured Dr. Ibrahim Saleh Al-Nuaimi, Chairperson of the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue; Mr. Ahmed al-Rumaihi, Director of the External Affairs Office at Qatar Charity; Dr Aynabat Atayeva, Chief of the UNOCT International Hub on Behavioural Insights to Counter Terrorism, Doha; Dr. Frank Peter, Associate Professor of Master of Arts in Contemporary Islamic Studies, College of Islamic Studies, HBKU; and Dr. Hira Amin, Post-Doctoral Researcher, College of Public Policy, HBKU. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Mohamed Evren Tok, Associate Dean for Community Engagement, College of Public Policy, HBKU.
The panel discussion focused on ways to counter Islamophobia, tackle rising levels of hate crimes against Muslims and show solidarity against hate speech and stigmatization of Muslims worldwide.
It also outlined how non-state actors can help joint efforts to combat this growing phenomenon by creating safe spaces for those affected and spreading awareness through media, education, and academic research, in addition to recognizing, celebrating and honoring Islamic culture, heritage, beliefs and values.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Ahmed al-Rumaihi, welcomed participants and highlighted the impact of Islamophobia on the financial and geographical access of Muslim NGOs.
Dr. Aynabat Atayeva said, “Recent research indicates that a large portion of islamophobia is caused by fear and uncertainty, which in turn leads to negative stereotyping. By studying human behavior in relation to sensitive topics such as religion, customs and traditions and cultural biases, it is possible to understand why individuals may be more likely to participate in negative attitudes and behaviors.”
For his part, Dr. Ibrahim Saleh Al-Nuaimi emphasized the role of non-state actors in combating this phenomenon. He said that they must play a key role in tackling Islamophobia by strengthening religious teachings that promote peace, love, and coexistence while emphasizing that the relationship of man with his fellow man is based on human brotherhood, love, and peace.
He touched on the role and experience of the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue in addressing this phenomenon, affirming its support for all efforts by all those advocating for peace.
Dr. Mohamed Evren Tok said: “The international day to combat Islamophobia offered the perfect opportunity to scrutinize public policies that have so far failed to respond to the rights and freedoms of adversely affected individuals and communities. We had a chance to discuss and identify the role non-state actors can play in challenging the root causes of Islamophobia on a global scale.”
Dr. Hira Amin spoke about the role of social media in countering Islamophobia particularly from the Western media. She discussed how digital activism can be used in multiple ways such as highlighting the hypocrisy of the criticism, negating false news, and sharing positive experiences.
The panel discussion concluded with a question-and-answer session.