UNESCO fighting against Islamophobia in schools

Diversity in the classroom is getting bigger in society all over the globe; however, there has been a growing issue of “Islamophobia.” This term is defined by UNESCO as a word to “demote fear, hatred, or prejudice against Islam and Muslims.” In response, UNESCO published a set of guidelines to address this issue and what schools can do to prevent racism among students.

“Through education, we can teach children not to hate from the very young age. Through education, we can raise tolerant leaders. Through education, we may establish a lasting culture of peace,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

The issue of Islamophobia is a real problem that starts from the community and is spreading globally. A growing number of Muslims have expressed feelings that they are discriminated against by society. And they might not be far off in their assumptions. In Britain, a survey revealed that only 25% of people feel positive about Muslims living in their communities. While in France, a widely known magazine insulted the Muslim community on the front cover, igniting a large controversy. With Islam largely associated with terrorism and extremism in the media, Islamophobia seems only to be getting bigger.

Such global issues motivated UNESCO and its partners to write up Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims. It aims to promote that “mutual understanding and respect for diversity, along with countering all forms of intolerance and discrimination, must today, more than ever, be absolute priorities for international community, in order to maintain peace and stability at both the global and regional levels.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe are set to meet to discuss these guidelines. They are centered on the issues of Islamophobia in education. From countering intolerance against Muslims to promoting mutual understanding in multicultural education settings, it hopes to uproot stereotypes and misconceptions. The meeting is set to take place starting this month.

Open Equal Free, 9 November 2012