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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday strongly condemned the “encouragement of Islamophobia” by French President Emmanuel Macron and the systematic Islamophobic campaign under the garb of freedom of expression.

Prime Minister Imran Khan took to twitter on Sunday and stated that hallmark of a leader is that he unites human beings, as Mandela did, rather than dividing them.

“This is a time when President Macron could have put healing touch & denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation & marginalisation that inevitably leads to radicalization. It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists,” Prime Minister Khan said.

He further tweeted: “Sadly, President Macron has chosen to deliberately provoke Muslims, including his own citizens, through encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam & our Prophet PBUH. By attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, President Macron has attacked & hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe & across the world”.

“The last thing the world wants or needs is further polarisation. Public statements based on ignorance will create more hate, Islamophobia & space for extremists,” the Prime Minister added.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also took to twitter and emphasized the need for working together for peaceful coexistence. “At a time of rising racism, ultranationalism and populism, the international community must show common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance, stigmatization and incitement to violence on the basis of religion/belief. We must work together for peaceful coexistence & interfaith harmony,” Qureshi stated in a tweet.

Foreign Office also condemned the ‘systematic Islamophobic campaign under the garb of freedom of expression’.

“Pakistan condemns in the strongest manner the systematic resurgence of blasphemous acts of republication of caricatures of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) and desecration of the Holy Quran by certain irresponsible elements in some developed countries,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

It stated: “We are further alarmed at highly disturbing statements by certain politicians justifying such heinous acts under the garb of freedom of expression and equating Islam with terrorism, for narrow electoral and political gains”.

Under international human rights law, it added that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities.

“The dissemination of racist ideas, defamation and ridiculing of other religions, denigration of religious personalities, hate speech, and incitement to violence are not allowed expressions of this fundamental freedom,” it added.

It further stated that such illegal and Islamophobic acts fanning inter-religious hatred, hostility and confrontation, are the very basis of horrendous terrorist acts like Christ Church, thereby imperiling future prospects of peace and harmony among civilizations.

Whilst having anti-blasphemy and criminal laws for sensitive issues such as denial of Holocaust, the justification by a few politicians in some Western countries for insulting sentiments of Muslims, is a blatant reflection of double standards, it stated, adding that such justifications seriously erode their human rights credentials.

“Pakistan has always supported and continues to lead international efforts for combating intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief,” it stated, adding that both in our national capacity as well as part of the OIC group, we have advocated arduously for the alliance of civilizations and developing mutual understanding and respect for all religions, faiths and beliefs. “We unequivocally condemn all acts of violence on the basis of religion or belief,” the Foreign Office further stated.

It added that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address at the 75th UN General Assembly session highlighted the recent incidents of Islamophobia and such unlawful provocations and urged the international community to take all necessary steps to universally outlaw willful provocations and incitement to hate and violence. The Prime Minister also proposed to declare an International Day to Combat Islamophobia, it added.

“At a time of rising racism and populism, the international community must show a common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance, stigmatization and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief. It is necessary to work together for peaceful co-existence as well as social and inter-faith harmony,” it added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020