ISLAMABAD: Pakis­tan on Monday strongly condemned the raid by Israeli forces on Al Aqsa Mosque on the third day of Ramazan, expelling worshippers and violating the sanctity of the mosque – one of the holiest sites of Muslims.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Foreign Office also condemned another abhorrent act of desecration of the Holy Quran in Denmark.

In a statement, the FO regretted that such reprehensible attacks on Al Aqsa Mosque by Israeli occupation forces during Ramazan.

On Thursday, the first day of Ramazan, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man during a raid in the occupied West Bank.

It noted that such acts not only constitute grave violation of the fundamental right to freedom of religion or belief of the Palestinian people but also an affront to religious sentiments of over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.

“The indiscriminate use of force by Israeli occupation forces against defenseless Palestinians defies all humanitarian and human rights norms and laws. By carrying out such illegal raids, Israel has backed out on its own recent commitment to respect the sanctity of Ramazan,” the FO statement said.

“Pakistan calls upon the international community to take urgent action to put an end to the Israeli transgressions that have been particularly ascendant since the beginning of this year,” the FO said.

“We reaffirm our un-stinted support for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause, and renew our call for a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State, with pre-1967 borders, and Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital being the only just, comprehensive and lasting solution of the Palestinian question, in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions.”

Separately, referring to another incident of desecration of the Holy Quran in Denmark, the FO noted that the “recurrence of such wilful and vile acts is a troubling manifestation of growing hatred, racism and phobia against Muslims and their faith”.

The incident took place on March 24 when far-right activist Rasmus Paludan, who earlier staging a Quran-burning protest in Sweden on January 21, repeated the act in front of a mosque and Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen and vowed to continue every Friday until Sweden is admitted into NATO.

It said that repeated occurrence of such premeditated acts calls into question the efficacy of legal framework behind which Islamophobes hide and incite hatred.

“The exercise of the right to freedom of expression cannot be used as a smokescreen to deliberately denigrate the Holy Scriptures or personalities of any religion,” the FO said.

“We call on all States to develop legal deterrence with a view to preventing and prosecuting such acts, in line with the responsibilities and duties enshrined in international human rights law. We also call upon the international human rights machinery to speak out against such intentional actions that constitute incitement to hate, discrimination and violence against Muslims solely because of their faith.”

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2023

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