ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday expressed concern over the proliferation of Islamophobia in Europe and called for urgent steps to address it.
The issue was raised by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Fifth Round of Pakistan-European Union Strategic Dialogue, which was held virtually. The session was co-chaired by Mr Qureshi and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Mr Josep Borrell.
“The foreign minister apprised his European counterpart about the concerns of Muslims around the world, including Pakistan regarding the growing trend of Islamophobia in some European countries,” the Foreign Office (FO) said.
The latest spell of Islamophobia began last month when French President Emmanuel Macron in some rude remarks about Islam described it as a religion “in crisis all over the world,” which had been taken over by extremists.
He then vowed to fight “radical Islamism” and uphold secular values at all costs. His subsequent defence of the caricatures, other comments about Islam and action against Muslims added fuel to the fire.
Qureshi, EU’s Borrell co-chair virtual session of strategic dialogue
It is feared that the crisis unleashed by Mr Macron’s comments could draw Europe into greater polarisation that could affect its peace and security.
Mr Qureshi had earlier raised this issue with his other European counterparts in his conversations with them over the past few days and called for promoting inter-faith harmony for defusing the potentially dangerous situation.
EU-Pakistan dialogue reviewed the implementation of Pakistan-European Union Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP), which was signed in June last year.
The SEP is the new bilateral framework of cooperation that aims at the deepening of Pak-EU relations in all areas.
The FO said the two sides expressed satisfaction on the progress towards the implementation of the SEP.
The two sides at the dialogue exchanged views on regional and international issues and shared their assessments on the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and actions taken by the respective sides to mitigate its negative socio-economic impacts.
EU is Pakistan’s major trading and investment partner.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora had last month held the sixth round of Pakistan-European Political Dialogue.
Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2020