Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday wrote to the leaders of Muslim countries calling on them to act together against Islamophobia, as anger grows over France’s defence of the right to mock religion.
Muslims across the world have reacted furiously to French President Emmanuel Macron’s defence of free speech after a French school teacher who had shown his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was killed.
Khan accused European countries of ridiculing the Holy Prophet (PBUH), allowing discrimination against Muslims and refusing to let Muslim women wear clothing that covers most of their bodies.
“The recent statements at the leadership level and incidents of desecration of the Holy Qur’an are a reflection of the increase in Islamophobia that is spreading in European countries,” the letter said, days after Khan accused Macron of attacking Islam.
“In this environment, it is incumbent on us as leaders of the Muslim world to collectively take the lead in breaking cycles of hate and extremism, which nurtures violence and even death. We, as leaders of Muslim polities, must take the initiative to call for an end to this cycle of hate and violence. I urge all our Muslim leaders as a collectivity, to raise our voice and explain to the leadership of the non-Muslim, especially western states, the deep-seated reverence and love all Muslims feel for their divine book, the Holy Qur’an, and our Prophet (PBUH),” the letter further said.
In a speech in Lahore Yesterday, Khan added the lives of Muslims have been made difficult in France, and Western countries should consider the sensitivities of devotees.
Blasphemy is an explosive issue in Pakistan, where anyone deemed to have insulted Islam or Islamic figures can face the capital punishment.
Macron’s comments have triggered protests and a call to boycott French goods in some Muslim-majority countries.
Small and scattered protests have taken place across Pakistan this week, including in the port city of Karachi yesterday.
Khan’s office earlier wrote a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking the social media giant to take down Islamophobic content.
Sources say Khan has decided to raise the issue of blasphemous caricatures at international fora following a meeting of his federal cabinet yesterday.
Khan said no-one would be allowed to disrespect Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the name of freedom of expression.
The cabinet, while taking strong exception to the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France and hurting the sentiments of billions, said it was intolerable and unacceptable for any Muslim.
It also condemned in the strongest terms the remarks of French President that hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.
During the meeting, it was reiterated that every available forum would be used for the effective representation of the sentiments of Muslims regarding the blasphemous caricatures.
In this regard, the reservations of Pakistan as well as Muslim world would be conveyed to the world through the platform of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the cabinet was said to have agreed.
Earlier, Pakistan had summoned French envoy Marc Baréty to lodge a “strong protest” against the publication of blasphemous caricatures and Macron’s “anti-Islam” comments.
According to a spokesperson for the Foreign Office, a demarche was also handed to the French envoy by Special Secretary (Europe) Dr Aman Rashid. The FO had told Baréty that Pakistan strongly protested the publication of blasphemous sketches in France.
A “strong protest” was also recorded over Macron’s “blasphemous statement” after the caricatures were published, the Foreign Office had said, adding that it condemned the French president’s statement accusing Muslims of separatism and vowing not to give up on blasphemous caricatures.
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