ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has called upon the world leaders to crack down on online hate speech and Islamophobia following the deadly truck attack in London-Ontario, Canada.
"Everyone is shocked in [Pakistan], because we saw the family picture, and so a family being targeted like that has had a deep impact in Pakistan," Prime Minister Khan told the CBC's chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton in an interview posted on its website on Saturday. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is the main news outlet in Canada.
The prime minister said the recent pattern of domestic terror in Western countries demanded a heightened focus on online radicalization. The prime minister to a question about online radicalization said "I think there should be a very strict action against this."
"When there are these hate websites which create hatred amongst human beings, there should be an international action against them," he stressed.
Four-member of Pakistani family were mercilessly mauled down and a nine-year-old boy suffered serious injuries when they were run over by a pickup truck on last Sunday evening. Canadian police say the family was targeted because they were Muslim. The family moved to Canada from Pakistan in 2007.
After the tragic incident, the prime minister took to his twitter handle to express his feelings. "Saddened to learn of the killing of a Muslim Pakistani-origin Canadian family in London, Ontario."
This condemnable act of terrorism revealed the growing Islamophobia in Western countries, he said, adding "Islamophobia needs to be countered holistically by the international community".
Prime Minister Imran Khan further told CBC that he had raised the issue with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau, describing him as a leader who understood the importance of fighting online hate and Islamophobia. The prime minister urged other leaders to make such commitment. "The world leaders, whenever they decide upon taking action, this will be dealt with," he opined.
The prime minister reiterated that there was not enough motivation and that some international leaders, or leaders in the Western countries, actually did not understand this phenomenon. The prime minister further said that he "mostly agrees" with Trudeau and his position on extremism, but also expressed concern with some Canadian laws that he believed were contributing to Islamophobia.
Prime minister Khan described Quebec's Bill 21 - which banned public servants, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols at work - as a form of "secular extremism" that led to intolerance against Muslims.
"You want humans to basically be free to express the way they want to be, as long as it doesn't cause pain and hurt to other human beings," he emphasised. The prime minister had been consistently and vociferously raising the issue of Islamophobia at all the global for a demanding from Western governments to swing into action against online hate speech against Muslims living in western countries.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last year had cautioned against the rising tide of Islamophobia in the world and called upon the United Nations to play its part in combatting religious hatred.
In a virtual address, the prime minister regretted that at a time when the global community should have come together to combat the novel coronavirus, it had instead stoked racism and religious hatred. "Unfortunately, it has instead fanned nationalism, increased global tensions and given rise to racial and religious hatred and violence against vulnerable minorities in several places.
Islamophobia was rising in several countries, he cautioned, adding that Muslims were being "targeted with impunity", mosques were being desecrated and Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was being disrespected "in the name of (so called) freedom of speech".
He stressed that willful provocations and incitement to hate and violence must be universally outlawed, and urged the UNGA to "declare an international day to combat Islamophobia".
Yumna Afzaal, 15, Madiha Salman, 44, Talat Afzaal, 74, and Salman Afzaal 46 were out for an evening walk when they were run over by 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman who police said was motivated by anti-Muslim hate.
He had participated in online activity that promoted extremism or violence. Canadian prime minister Trudeau pledged to crack down on online hate speech when he introduced a new digital charter in 2019, though critics say Ottawa had been slow to implement changes that could stop online radicalization.