ISLAMABAD: Diplomats from Muslim nations decided on Friday to raise their voice at all international forums — including the UN — against online sacrilege against the Islamic faith on the internet.
Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan hosted the ambassadors of Islamic countries at the Punjab House in Islamabad in an effort to work out a joint policy to counter online anti-Islam material.
The meeting had one-point agenda: to discuss blasphemous content on social media and how to effectively raise voice against the madness unleashed against Islam and its revered religious figures in the name of freedom of expression.
The participants were unanimous that “the [Muslim] Ummah is united to protect the sanctity and dignity of the religion and the Holy Prophet (pbuh)”.
They decided that a comprehensive strategy paper, encompassing all legal and technical aspects would be circulated by Pakistan’s foreign ministry among the ambassadors of the Muslim countries which they would be sharing with their governments to evolve a future plan of action.
It was also decided that a formal reference would be sent to the secretaries general of the Arab League and OIC, raising the issue of blasphemous content on social media and how such a trend has been hurting the sentiments of Muslims across the world.
The meeting decided that after a response has been received from the governments of Islamic countries, the matter would then be taken up at the level of the United Nations, besides looking into legal options available to follow up on the matter legally in the courts of respective countries from where such content was being generated.
Addressing the ambassadors, the interior minister said: “Distortion of religious beliefs and sacrilege of holy personalities of any religion is intolerable,” adding, “No law permits showing disrespect or distortion of any religion.”
The minister said it was unfortunate that Muslims being the biggest victims of terrorism were being portrayed as its perpetrators. “Muslim Ummah should strive together to impress upon the international community to shed off Islamophobia.”
The minister said: “Distortion of any religion is also another form of terrorism that the international community must acknowledge.”
Nisar said sections of the Western world should shun double standards about Islam and Muslims. “On the one hand, they have laws against any kind of distortion or disrespect towards any religion, while on the other hand, the most revered personalities of Islam are being ridiculed.”
The ambassadors appreciated the initiative of the interior minister to highlight the issue. They agreed, in principle, with the strategy identified by the interior minister.
Ambassadors of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Qatar, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Iran, Jordon, Kuwait, Palestine, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE, acting ambassadors of Bosnia & Herzegovina and Malaysia, deputy ambassador of Bahrain, high commissioners of the Maldives and Brunei Darussalam attended the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2017.