NEW YORK - Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday called for effective measures to counter hate speech and Islamphobia, besides stressing upon the importance of addressing both the drivers and consequences of these phenomena.

He was expressing his views in a high-level roundtable discussion on ‘Countering Hate Speech’ co-hosted by Pakistan and Turkey.

Noting the growing incidents of discrimination and violence based on religion and belief, the prime minister underscored that the religion had nothing to do with terrorism.

The prime minister rejected attempts to equate Islam with terrorism, noting that such self-serving approaches were dangerous and therefore should be eschewed.

He said the biggest damage done to the Muslims was that after the 9/11 terrorism was associated with Islam and the words like Islamic terrorism and Islamic radicalism were used by leaders of the West.

The prime minister said there was only one Islam – the Islam of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

He said before the 9/11, 75 percent suicide attacks were carried out by the Tamil Tigers and they were Hindus, adding that no one blamed their religion.

The prime minister also referred to the perpetrator of New Zealand mosque attack and said linking terrorism with any religion was injustice. He urged the Muslim leadership to come up and talk about separating terrorism from Islam.

The world must understand Muslims’ sensitivities for Islam and the reverence for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), he emphasised.

The prime minister observed that marginalisation of any community could lead to its radicalisation. He said there was a need for promoting greater understanding and tolerance among and between the communities across the world.

The prime minister underlined that the United Nations provided an important platform to evolve an informed discourse on countering these phenomenon, noting the need for more efforts by Muslim leaders to explain why attempts to denigrate revered Muslim personalities especially Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) caused pain and offense to billions of Muslims.

The United Nations provided an important platform to evolve an informed discourse on countering hate speech, he opined.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking to the roundtable echoed the concerns and called for a balance between exercising the right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

He termed the hate speech the worst crimes against humanity. He said the Muslims were the most vulnerable community to hate speech across the world.

“Muslims are subjected to hate speech the most. Hate speech should never be confused with freedom of opinion,” Erdoğan said and added “Today, Muslims are the most subjected to hate speech, cultural racism, discrimination and insults. Muslims’ workplaces, homes, worshipping places are targeted by racist and fascist groups almost every day,” said the president.

He said Muslim women are harassed for wearing headscarves on the street and workplaces. “As a country, which has 6.5 million citizens abroad who are impacted by hate speech and attacks, we cannot overlook this issue,” he added.

Erdoğan noted that hate speech is normalised by populist politicians and media and cannot be considered within the freedom of opinion.

“In India, how will we defend Muslim youth who are being whipped, beaten by machetes and even sentenced to death just for eating beef,” Erdoğan said.

The Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir had been turned into an open-air prison, he said, warning that they feared bloodshed in the Occupied Kashmir.

Expressing his concern over the situation in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, he reiterated his call for a just solution of this longstanding dispute.

The High Representative of the UN Alliance for Civilizations drew attention to existence of conflicts and disputes that lay at some of these phenomena and called for addressing them. He also commended Pakistan for hosting the important event.