Special Representative to the P.M. on Interfaith Harmony claims ‘sporadic’ incidents of violence do not reflect reality of religious harmony in Pakistan
Islam does not allow for incidents such as the mob lynching of a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot earlier this month, Special Representative to the P.M. on Interfaith Harmony and Middle East Tahir Ashrafi said on Sunday, adding that the entire world was aware that insulting any religion did not equate to freedom of expression.
“Sporadic incidents of violence do not reflect the true picture of religious harmony in Pakistan,” he told an Ulema-o-Mashaikh Convention in Faisalabad. Condemning the mob lynching of Sri Lankan Priyantha Kumara over allegations of blasphemy, he said the government had beefed up security for minorities and foreigners to prevent such tragedies from re-occurring.
Ashrafi stressed that Islam did not permit anyone to take the law into their own hands or causing harm to any person or property, adding that this was against shariah. “Islam has provided a legal procedure to investigate offenses, including blasphemy or any other crime,” he added.
The special representative urged the ulema present to portray the “true picture” of Islam so that incidents of mob lynchings and unrest did not happen in the future. He noted that Islam is a religion of peace, adding that it is also true that blasphemy hurts the religious sentiments of Muslims as Islam’s Prophet is “dearer” to Muslims than their own lives and properties.
Ashrafi reiterated calls for the Chief Justice of Pakistan to decide blasphemy cases on urgent basis so that any accused could be punished and no one felt “compelled” to take the law into their own hands.
Claiming that the entire world was united against blasphemy, he appreciated a recent statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he had maintained that insulting Islam was not akin to freedom of expression.
On neighboring Afghanistan, the special representative said that last week’s Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Islamabad had taken “bold steps” on the issue. “It is a great achievement that the whole world is now recognizing our position on the issue of Afghanistan,” he said.
“Muslims are like one body. The whole body feels pain if any part of it gets hurts. Therefore, we should understand pain and troubles of others and try optimum to resolve it,” he said. “Islam does not prevent women from getting education but it declares education mandatory for men as well as women. In this regard maximum legislation has also been enacted so that the female community could play its dynamic role in national and social development,” he added.