ISLAMABAD: Prime Min­ister Imran Khan has called on the Muslim world to exhibit unity against Islamophobia and told the West that attack on Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) will provide space to radical and far-right groups to exploit the situation.

In another development, Foreign Minister Shah Meh­mood Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with his Turkish counterpart Mev­lüt Çavusoglu on Wednesday during which they agreed to closely coordinate on the challenge posed by growing Islamo­phobia and other issues faced by the Muslim world.

In a letter to leaders of the Muslim states, Prime Minister Khan said: “Blas­phemy against any Prophet of Islam, Christianity or Judaism was unacceptable in our faith and the time has come for leaders of the Mus­lim world to take this message with clarity and unity to the rest of the world, esp­ecially the Western world so an end is put to Islamophobia and attacks on Islam and our Prophet PBUH.”

The letter dated Oct 28, which was posted on the prime minister’s official Twitter account, said: “As a result, a dangerous cycle of actions and reactions are set in motion. 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 marginalisation of Muslims and the creating of space for radical, far-right groups to exploit the situation.”

The prime minister sent the letter days after blasphemous sketches of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were displayed on government buildings in France. The act was defended by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who had said that “Islamists want our future”. However, Muslim leaders strongly reacted and their people demanded severing of trade and other ties with France.

Mr Khan said recent statements at the leadership level and incidents of desecration of the Holy Quran were a reflection of increasing Islamophobia, spreading in European countries where sizeable Muslim populations resided.

About ‘covert and overt discrimination’, he said in Europe, mosques were being closed and Muslim women being denied their right to wear clothing of their choice in public domain, whereas nuns and priests continued to display their religious clothing.

“I believe the leadership in these countries often acts out of lack of understanding of the intrinsic deep passion, love and devotion Muslims all over the world have for their Prophet PBUH and their divine book, the Holy Quran,” he added.

“In this environment, it is incumbent on us as leaders of the Muslim world to collectively take the lead in breaking this cycle of hate and extremism, which nurtures violence and even death,” he said, adding that, “it is time to reach out to ‘the other’ and end cycles of violence bred of ignorance and hate.”

The prime minister said the Western world should be explained that value systems differ for different social and religious and ethnic groups in the world.

For Europeans and the Jews, the Holocaust, which was the culmination of the Nazi pogrom, has led to many Western, especially European states, to criminalise any act of criticism or questioning of the Holocaust, he said.

Urging the West to give respect to Muslims, PM Khan wrote: “We understand and respect that. However, there has to be an understanding by the Western world of giving a similar respect to Muslims, who have also seen their people killed in mass numbers from Bosnia to Iraq to Afghanistan, to Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, but for whom the pain and hurt is greatest when we see attacks on our faith and our beloved Prophet PBUH through mockery, ridicule and even abuse.”

“Our faith is guided by peace and tolerance as practiced in Riyasat-i-Madina and in accordance with Misaq-i-Madina (the Treaty concluded by our Prophet PBUH between Muslims and Jews),” he added.

Prime Minister Khan said it was the responsibility of the Muslims to inform the world of this spirit and core of the faith Islam.

FM calls Turkish, Afghan counterparts During his telephonic conversation with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavusoglu, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi discussed with him the issue of growing Islamophobia in the West.

“The foreign ministers agreed to remain in touch on issues of concern to the Muslim Ummah, including the rising Islamophobia. The Turkish foreign minister appreciated the stance taken by the prime minister on the subject,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

“The two foreign ministers expressed satisfaction at mutual collaboration between Pakistan and Turkey at multilateral fora. Foreign Minister Qureshi reiterated appreciation for the principled stance taken by Turkey on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and Turkey’s steadfast support in this regard,” it added.

Foreign Minister Qureshi also held a conversation with his Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar and discussed with him the Afghan peace process, bilateral relations, repatriation of Afghan refugees and regional connectivity.

Mr Qureshi hoped that the Afghan leadership would seize this historic opportunity through the ongoing intra-Afghan negotiations to establish lasting peace in Afghanistan by achieving an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

The foreign minister said Pakistan would respect the decisions taken by the Afghans about their future through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2020

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