Muslim leaders assail West over desecration

Published September 21, 2023
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 19. — AFP
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 19. — AFP

UNITED NATIONS: Muslim leaders addressing the United Nations on Tuesday berated the West over burnings of the Holy Quran.

In his address, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Western countries were seeing “a plague” of racism, including Islamophobia.

“It has reached intolerable levels,” he told the UN General Assembly.

“Unfortunately, populist politicians in many countries continue to play with fire by encouraging such dangerous trends,” he said.

“The mentality that encourages the hideous attacks against the Holy Quran in Europe, by allowing them under the guise of freedom of expression, is essentially darkening (Eur­ope’s) own future through its own hands.”

Protests in Sweden that have involved desecration of the Muslim holy book have sparked outrage in the Muslim world.

Iranian President Ebra­him Raisi held up a copy of the holy book during his speech from the UN rostrum.

“The fires of disrespect will not overcome the divine truth,” he said, accusing the West of seeking to “divert attention with the tool of freedom of speech.”

“Islamophobia and cultural apartheid witnessed in Western countries — evident in actions ranging from the desecration of the Holy Quran to the ban on the hijab in schools — and numerous other deplorable discriminations are not worthy of human dignity,” Raisi said. He was alluding to France, which has controversially banned Muslim girls wearing hijabs in schools.

The emir of Qatar also said in his speech that “compromising the sanctity of others deliberately” should not be seen as freedom of expression.

“I would say to my Muslim brethren that it is implausible for us to get distracted by an idiot whenever it occurs to him to provoke us by burning the Holy Quran or by other forms of triviality,” Sheikh Tamim said.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2023

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