THIS is apropos the reports ‘Imran asks OIC to counter Islamophobia’ (May 4) and ‘PM vows to lead drive against blasphemy’ (April 20). In one of his recent addresses, the prime minister pledged to mobilise the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and to put up a collective front against France for supporting blasphemous sketches.

He also talked of the possibility of a collective boycott of all French products to make it realise the folly of its ways. Frankly, the OIC is accepted as a totally benign setup. It would take many years, if at all it is possible, to even nudge it into doing something practical.

Islamophobia is just a new name for a centuries-old prejudice generated in the 11th century by Pope Urban II. He ordered the armies of Europe to invade Jerusalem and liberate the land from ‘Islamic infidels’. ‘Crusaders’ from across Europe did swoop down upon the holy land for centuries. Richard ‘the Lionheart’ made his name in the crusades. Even when the onslaught was eventually stymied by Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi, the hatred continued simmering under the surface.

There is no dearth of provokers in every corner of this world who will never miss an opportunity to instigate. ‘Freedom of expression’ is such a widespread subject that it is the easiest to manipulate.

That the likes of Charlie Hebdo will correct their ways under pressure from the OIC is a tall order. They are, in fact, elated and thrive on senseless organisations going berserk, killing their own people and plundering their own cities.

It may be interpreted as cowardly by people of a certain mindset, but the only answer to these planned instigations by publishers, like Charlie Hebdo of France, is to ignore them completely. The old village adage, hathi chalta raihta hai aur kuttay bhonktay raihtay hain (while the elephant walks, dogs keep barking), has a lot of wisdom in it.

With time, the elephant will stroll along leisurely and the barking dogs will exhaust themselves out. Any other reaction would be counter-productive.

Capt S. Afaq Rizvi

Karachi

(2)

THIS refers to the report ‘EU Parliament adopts resolution calling for review of Pakistan’s GSP+ status over blasphemy law abuse’ (April 30).

It is a shame that the European Parliament has taken it upon itself to take the lead in this regard without ever holding any debate or discussion regarding France’s actions and the recently approved Islamophobic policies across the country.

The misplaced notion of freedom of speech has once again shown its ugly face. The West has done it time and again while asking everyone else to stay away from subjects that are considered ‘sensitive topics’ to its masses.

The Muslim world has never reacted adversely to any healthy discussion about the religion no matter how critically the questions are posed.

Muhammad Ali Rehman

Peshawar

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2021

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