In meeting with envoys of several Muslim states, Pakistan’s premier reiterates need to institute legal safeguards to protect sensitivities of all religions
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday urged members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to unite in apprising the international community on the deep-rooted “love and reverence” that all Muslims feel for Islam’s Prophet and the holy Quran.
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Khan met several Islamabad-based ambassadors of OIC nations and briefed them on Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to raise global awareness about Islamophobia and the need to collectively address the issue. Recalling the two letters he had written to leaders of the Islamic world last year, he stressed that Pakistan’s measures were aimed at promoting mutual understanding and interfaith harmony.
“Noting that Islamophobic acts fan inter-religious hatred and disharmony among civilizations, the prime minister called for addressing the underlying reasons for the rise in such incidents worldwide,” read the PMO statement. It noted that he had reiterated that falsely equating Islam with radicalism and terrorism was increasing the marginalization and stigmatization of Muslims globally.
Hitting out at freedom of expression, Khan emphasized that “vilification of Islamic precepts and religious personalities” was wrongly justified under freedom of speech or opinion and hurt “the sentiments of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.” He stressed that legal safeguards should be implemented to protect the sensitivities of all religious groups, and highlighted the OIC’s collective efforts to project the “true image of Islam, and its message of peace and tolerance.”
The premier reaffirmed that Pakistan remained committed to dialogue and cooperation with all members of the international community to promote universal values of tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence among all nations and peoples.
European Parliament censure
Separately, the prime minister met with senior leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and decided to urge the European Union to de-link Pakistan’s GSP+ status from its blasphemy laws.
Last week, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a review of Pakistan’s preferential trade terms over an “alarming” rise in blasphemy cases in the past two years, as well as the ongoing attacks on journalists and civil society organizations both online and offline. The resolution also expressed concern at the rising anti-French sentiment in Pakistan, as visible most recently during the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan riots that swept major urban centers last month.