ISLAMABAD - The French ambassador was summoned here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday to convey Pakistan’s deep concerns over the recent Islamophobic campaign.

The envoy was called over systematic resurgence of blasphemous acts of republication of caricatures of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and desecration of Holy Quran by certain irresponsible elements. The envoy was told that “such illegal and Islamophobic acts hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world, including those in Pakistan.”

Furthermore, such actions could not be justified in the name of freedom of expression, a Foreign Office statement said.

It was conveyed that Pakistan strongly condemned equating Islam with terrorism for narrow electoral and political gains. “Such provocative statements and actions were fanning inter-religious hatred, hostility and confrontation thereby imperiling efforts of peace and harmony among various segments of society,” the statement said.

It was reiterated that freedom of expression should not be misused as means to attack or hurt public sentiments or religious beliefs and fan inter-religious hatred, hostility and confrontation.

‘March 15 International Day against Islamophobia’

It was emphasised that such actions and statements would further divide peoples and civilizations and undermine the global aspirations for peaceful co-existence as well as social and inter-faith harmony.

“At a time of rising racism, intolerance and populism, there is a need to promote harmony among peoples and communities instead of reinforcing stereotypes and making people alienated,” the Foreign Office statement concluded.

Pakistan will propose March 15 to be declared as an International Day against Islamophobia during the upcoming meeting of foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Monday.

The Foreign Minister said on the directive of Prime Minister Imran Khan, he would submit a comprehensive resolution before the OIC meeting in view of the rising trend of Islamophobia all over the world.

On March 15, 2019, at least 50 Muslims were killed when a terrorist opened fire on worshippers of Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city.

Qureshi, talking to a private television channel, urged upon the United Nations to take urgent and solid steps to counter the hate speech against Muslims. He warned that the “seeds of hate being sown today” would give rise to an unending violence in the societies, already divided on the basis of religion and race.

 

He mentioned Prime Minister Khan’s letter addressed to CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg a day earlier, asking him to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam that had been put in place for the Holocaust.  

 

The prime minister drew CEO’s attention to the growing Islamophobia that was encouraging hate, extremism and violence across the world and especially through the use of social media platforms including Facebook. The Foreign Minister said the incidents such as desecration of Holy Quran and publishing of Prophet’s blasphemous caricatures by a French magazine Charlie Hebdo were unfortunately taking place frequently. He said no one had the right to hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslim across the globe, adding that the remarks of French President Emmanuel Macron added fuel to fire.