IN SUMMARY: High Level Forum on Combating Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hatred, UN

Tuesday 17 January 2017, United Nations, New York, NY

Sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Canada, the US, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Delegation of the EU to the UN

A number of UN and government representatives, in the waning days of the Obama Administration, organized a meeting that brought together a range of actors invested in combating Muslim discrimination on the basis of Muslim identity, often conflated with Islamic law (sharīʿa) and violence. The meeting included UN representatives, delegates, and advisors, as well as leaders in civil society organizations working on issues related to anti-Muslim discrimination and bias. SHARIAsource was involved to expose the intersection of anti-Muslim and anti-sharīʿa activities, such as the legislation introduced in some 22 states and with proposed legislation in the federal government. It advocated the need for defining Islamic law based on informed analysis by experts and from an academic approach.

Newly elected United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres provided a welcome message for attendees. The EU and US Department of State also issued their own coverage of the program. Composed of three panels focusing on government, civil society, and community representation, the timing of the program was significant given upcoming elections in Europe and the US presidential inauguration.  SHARIAsource’s focus on the topic of Islamic law was unique among the attendees for its attention to Islamic law using an academic approach. Most of the other participants and presenters focused on policy application and public policy engagement related to anti-Muslim discrimination. Representing SHARIAsource, executive director Paul Beran said of the meeting, “The three target audiences of SHARIAsource – academics, journalists, and policy makers – situate the development of context and content on Islamic law that we provide outside of the policy application and critique discussion. However, it does provide a rich source for building bridges with individuals and organizations working in those areas.”