March 15 will now be known as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia—due to a resolution introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), that was subsequently adopted by the UN General Assembly. However, not all members of the UN General Assembly were on board with what seems a fairly uncomplicated resolution condemning bigotry. Representatives of India and France expressed reservations, saying that while religious intolerance was prevalent all over the world, the resolution singled out only Islam and excluded others.

India’s objections seem absurd and can only be attributed to the possibility to guilt for the Islamophobic actions of the Indian state. Firstly, the date March 15 was carefully chosen as it is the anniversary of the horrific 2019 attack that shook the world, where a terrorist attacked two mosques in New Zealand, leaving 51 Muslims dead. That attack, as well as countless such incidents over the years, are not merely instances of general bigotry- scholars and experts have identified them as a specific brand of bigotry against Muslims that has been termed as Islamophobia.

There is vast scholarship and evidence detailing the existence of Islamophobia and how many governments perpetuate the problem. Trying to misrepresent and minimise the problem by confusing it with other terms of religion-phobia damages the struggle to eliminate Islamophobia.

Instead of being defensive, India and other objecting countries would do better to take a good look at their own governments and their policies that could perpetuate Islamophobia against their Muslim citizens. While Muslims have always been a persecuted minority in India, the past years of the BJP government have indulged in aggressive and blatant Islamophobia—advocating historical revisionism to suggest Indian Muslims are not Indians, ethnically displacing Kashmiri Muslims, and now churning out hate speech in the form of propaganda films. The resolution was rightly timed, and the countries that objected are those that most badly need the message.