ISLAMABAD: The foreign ministry would circulate a comprehensive strategy paper dealing with legal and technical issues regarding blasphemous content on the social media among ambassadors of Muslim countries, who would share the document with their respective governments so that a plan of action could be evolved for the future, it was decided on Friday.
The decision was taken at a meeting between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and ambassadors of Muslim countries based in Islamabad.
The meeting — which arguably marked the first step towards evolving a joint strategy to deal with blasphemous material on the social media — also decided that references on the matter would be sent to chiefs of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League.
OIC and Arab League to be approached over objectionable material on social media
Once responses to the strategy paper were received from the Muslim countries, the issue would be taken up with the United Nations, the minister and the ambassadors said. They resolved that legal options would be exercised and courts in the countries from where the objectionable material were originating would be moved.
The meeting was convened by the minister and it had the single-point agenda of discussing ways and means of responding to the “madness unleashed against Islam and its holy personalities in the name of freedom of expression”.
There was unanimity among those attending the meeting that the Ummah stood united in protecting the sanctity and dignity of its religion and of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Khan said that distortion of religious beliefs and sacrilege of holy personalities could never be tolerated. No law should allow people to distort religious beliefs or disrespect holy figures.
It was unfortunate, said the minister, that despite being the most notable victims of terrorism, Muslims were often portrayed as the perpetrators of terrorist attacks. Muslim countries should join hands to impress upon the international community that it should get rid of major irritants like Islamophobia.
Chaudhry Nisar was of the view that the international community should recognise that wilful distortion of any religion was like carrying out a terrorist attack.
Many western countries, the minister said, routinely tolerated double standards when it came to Islam. On the one hand they had laws that prohibited distortion of certain religions, but on the other, they looked the other way when the most revered personalities of Islam were ridiculed.
The ambassadors attending the meeting praised the interior minister for highlighting a very important issue and taking a lead in attempting to find solutions to a burning problem.
Senior officials of the ministries of foreign affairs and interior were present on the occasion.
The countries whose ambassadors or other diplomats attended the meeting included Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Qatar, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Jordon, Kuwait, Malaysia, Palestine, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2017