In letter to heads of Muslim states, Pakistan’s premier says dangerous cycle of actions and reactions must end
Urging leaders of Muslim states to collectively explain to non-Muslims the “deep-seated reverence and love all Muslims feel” for the holy Quran and Islam’s Prophet, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday stressed the time had come to put an end to Islamophobia and attacks on Islam.
Noting a “rising tide” of Islamophobia, especially in Europe, Khan said recent statements against Islam and multiple reports of the Quran being desecrated were a reflection of the its spread. “In Europe mosques are being closed, Muslim women are being denied their right to wear clothing of their choice in the public domain even as nuns and priests continue to display their religious clothing, and covert and overt discrimination is widespread against Muslims living in those countries,” he said in a letter addressed to “leaders of Muslim states” and shared on his Twitter account.
The prime minister said he believed the leadership of such countries often did not realize the “intrinsic deep passion, love, and devotion Muslims all over the world have of their Prophet (PBUH) and their divine book, the holy Quran,” and warned that their actions were encouraging a “dangerous” cycle of action and reaction. “Hurtful actions result in reactions from Muslims as they see their faith and their beloved Prophet targeted, which results in further discriminatory actions by governments against Muslim populations in their states, resulting in marginalization of Muslims and the creating of space for radical, far-right groups to exploit the situation,” he wrote, adding that this also provoked radicalization, increasing the space for extremists “on all sides.”
In this scenario, said Khan, the leaders of the Muslim world must collectively act to break this cycle of hate and extremism. “I urge all our Muslim leaders as a collectivity to raise our voice and explain to the leadership of the non-Muslim, especially western states, the deep-seated reverence and love all Muslims feel for their divine book, the holy Quran, and for our Prophet (PBUH),” he said, adding that by reaching out to “the other,” cycles of violence bred by ignorance and hatred could be brought to an end.
Detailing his suggestions for how best to proceed, the prime minister said that the Western world must acknowledge that value systems differ for social and religious and ethnic groups. “For Europeans and Jews, the Holocaust, which was the culmination of the Nazi pogrom, has led to many Western, especially European states, to criminalizing any act of criticism or questioning of the Holocaust. We understand and respect that,” he added.
However, he added, the time had now come for the Western world to give similar respect to Muslims, who have seen similar mass killings in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and India-held Kashmir. “The pain and hurt [to Muslims] is greatest when we see attacks on our faith and our beloved Prophet (PBUH) through mockery, ridicule and even abuse,” he wrote, adding that the Muslim faith found blasphemy against any prophet of Islam, Christianity or Judaism “unacceptable.”
Reiterating his call for the leaders of the Muslim world to carry this message to the rest of the world, Khan said the world cannot continue this hate spiral. “Our faith is guided by peace and tolerance as practiced in Riyasat-e-Madina and in accordance with Misaq-i-Madina (the treaty concluded by our Prophet (PBUH) between Muslims and Jews). It is our responsibility to inform the world of this spirit and core of our faith Islam,” he added.
Protests and condemnations have broken out in Muslim countries globally over a statement issued by French President Emmanuel Macron in which he accused Muslims of being “separatists” and vowed to continue encouraging the creation and display of blasphemous caricatures of Islam’s Prophet. His speech came after a teacher was beheaded in France for showing the offensive cartoons during a class on free speech.
In Pakistan, calls have mounted for a boycott of all French goods, with opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman promising to lead peaceful protests against the French president next week.