LAHORE: Political leaders across the party line have condemned the burning of the Holy Quran during a right-wing protest in Sweden.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, outgoing Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi, and the OIC secretary-general str­ongly condemned the hurtful act on Sunday.

The prime minister strongly condemned the despicable act of desecration of the Holy Quran by a right-wing extremist in Sweden the other day.

“No words are enough to adequately condemn the abhorrable act of desecration of the Holy Quran by a right-wing extremist in Sweden. The garb of the freedom of expression cannot be used to hurt the religious emotions of 1.5 billion Muslims across the world. This is unacceptable,” the premier said in a tweet posted on his official account.

Former prime minister Imran Khan “strongly condemned” the act and said his government had sponsored a landmark resolution in the UN to combat Islamophobia.

PM Shehbaz, PTI chairman and OIC head denounce the act

“Strongly condemn [the] burning of Holy Quran yesterday at a protest in Sweden. Last March on our govt’s initiative the UNGA passed OIC sponsored landmark [resolution] on International Day to Combat Isla­mophobia. It recognised that Islam­ophobic acts were not an expression of freedom of speech,” he said in a tweet.

Parvez Elahi also took to Twitter to condemn the act.

“[I] strongly condemn the desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden,” he said in a series of tweets while calling the act “despicable” and “hurtful”.

“There should be no space for such acts in civilised societies. No civilised society could even think of desecrating a holy book.”

He added that the reverence for the Holy Quran was part of every Muslim’s faith and such acts cannot be tolerated in the garb of freedom of speech.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry asserted that such acts by “hatemongers” were a threat to the world’s peace. “World need[s] peace [but] hate mongers are trying to burn the world peace in the fire of their hate,” he tweeted.

“[The] Stockholm incident has hurt the sentiments of 1.5bn Muslims, those responsible should be booked in criminal offences for inciting hatred and sabotaging peace.”

National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani also condemned the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran and asked the Swedish government to take action against those involved in hurting the sentiments of Muslims all over the world under the guise of freedom of expression.

OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha condemned the act “in the strongest terms” and urged the Swedish authorities to take necessary action against the perpetrators of this “hate crime”, a release from the OIC Secretariat in Jeddah quoted him as saying.

He called for increased international efforts to prevent the rec­u­rrence of such acts and for solidarity in the fight against Islamophobia.

The OIC secretary-general further said this provocative action committed repeatedly by far-right extremists targeted Muslims, insulted their sacred values, and served as a further example of the alarming level reached by Islamophobia, hate, intolerance, and xenophobia.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2023

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