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ISLAMABAD: The joint sitting of parliament on Thursday strongly condemned the desecration of the Holy Quran by a man in Sweden’s capital during a protest authorised by police last week and called upon the international community to take prompt action to prevent such incidents in future.

In a special joint sitting of parliament convened to condemn the desecration of the Holy Quran in Stockholm – chaired by NA Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf – a unanimous resolution was passed, urging the concerned international organisations and states to legislate to criminalise the desecration of holy symbols of religions including holy books, personalities, and places of worships.

The resolution moved by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbassi– which was adopted unanimously – strongly condemned the act of desecration of the Holy Quran in Stockholm last week.

Sweden abhorrent act: Joint session summoned today

It said that the parliament believes in respecting all religions, beliefs and their holy books, adding appropriate steps should be taken by Swedish authorities against the perpetrators, including but not limited to legal action and to ensure that no such act takes place in future.

The resolution also urged that incidents of Islamophobia should be dealt with the same seriousness as hate against other religions.

The house acknowledged and appreciated the special session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for providing a platform to compile recommendations and devise a collective future strategy to counter Islamophobia.

The house called upon the international community to take appropriate measures for promoting interfaith harmony to ensure that any act that hurts religious sentiments may never take place in future.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif plainly demanded Sweden clear its position on the incident, asserting that Pakistan respected freedom of speech but would not tolerate any kind of propaganda against Muslims.

He said that Muslims across the world were angry over the incident. He also urged NA Speaker to constitute a committee for this purpose.

The committee, he added, would come up with recommendations to prevent such incidents in the future, which could be presented at forums across the world.

“It will be my responsibility to send the resolution and recommendations to Sweden,” he added.

He said that the Holy Quran taught the philosophy of love, respect, and patience to the entire world, highlighting that several messengers, such as Prophet Isa, were mentioned in the book.

“As Muslims, we respect them, their books and their religion. Never has anyone heard or seen the Bible being desecrated or burnt here. We respect all these religions so that no one points a finger at our religion or book,” he added.

The prime minister claimed that events such as the one in Sweden were part of a conspiracy to create rifts between Christians and Muslims and demanded that such actions be condemned.

“The incident that took place in Sweden on Eid […] no one ever thought that the police would let something like this happen […] we need to tell the world that this won’t be tolerated,” he added.

He further stated that the vile man who disrespected the Holy Quran in Sweden should be given exemplary punishment, highlighting that that could only be done through legal and political discussions.

He said that although Sweden had condemned the incident, it should clear its position on why the incident took place at all.

“We are not against freedom of speech, but no one has the right to talk about anyone’s religion or do propaganda against Muslims. No law in the world allows this,” he stressed, recalling that similar incidents had taken place in Sweden in the past as well.

“I am trying to reach out to the secretary general of the United Nations to call a meeting of all the Muslim leaders in which condemnations would be issued,” he added.

The opposition leader in NA Raja Riaz, a dissident of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, said that every forum should be used to raise the voice against this wrong act.

The opposition leader in Senate Senator Shahzad Waseem said that such an act will increase the feeling of abhorrence among various communities of the world and urged to control such incidents.

He said that similar incidents already occurred in some countries and demanded to stop happening of such incidents, adding playing with the sentiments of Muslims in the name of freedom of expression is absolutely deplorable.

Yousaf Raza Gilani, a former prime minister, said that Muslims respect other religions in accordance with Islamic teachings and expect reciprocity from followers of other faiths for global peace.

He stressed that promoting interfaith harmony among nations was essential for ensuring international peace, adding international community should take notice and strict action against those responsible.

Salahuddin of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) said that mere statement by the Swedish government was not enough as the act was done with the permission of a court.

Raza Rabbani, a former chairman Senate, said the desecration of holy books or religions in the name of freedom of expression did not allow anyone to carry out such a heinous act.

Mushtaq Ahmed of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) demanded recalling of Pakistan’s ambassador from Sweden besides expelling its ambassador and a complete boycott of products of that country.

Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said that mere protests and condemnations would not work unless Muslims pursue knowledge and pay heed towards scientific discoveries as instructed by the Holy Quran.

“We [Muslims] should do our own accountability. We must try to know what are the reasons for our downfall,” he maintained.

The lawmakers belonging to different political parties’ who spoke on the occasion, also slammed Sweden over the incident, saying Muslims worldwide have been deeply hurt by the disgraceful act.

They emphasized that no civilised society should permit provocation and disrespect of religious sentiments under the guise of freedom of expression, adding they urged the international community to address the tragic incident and take effective measures to prevent similar occurrences.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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