LAHORE: Our prime minister attended his maiden OIC summit this weekend. Given the tense situation in the Middle East, I would like to commend the PM on representing our country in a balanced manner. The PM’s speech addressed a very important issue that Muslims across the world face — the issue of being labelled as radicals and being associated with terrorism. The post-9/11 world has not been kind to Muslims, especially those living in the West. The constant propaganda linking terrorism to Islam, by labelling it as Islamic terrorism has done a lot of damage. Even Hollywood has added to this, by casting brown Muslim actors to play the role of terrorists and creating movies with such plots. Given all this, it is getting extremely difficult to combat the negative image of Islam, and to practise one’s religion freely and peacefully. The PM’s proposal for the OIC to actively address these labels is much needed.
Moreover, he also aptly pointed out that the OIC must convey the sentiments of Muslims across the world regarding the representation of the Prophet (PBUH). It is important for the EU and the UN to know that as Muslims, we find the caricatures of the Prophet disrespectful, and mocking holy figures — of any religion — should not fall under freedom of speech. People should be free to express themselves as long as they do not hurt the feelings of others.
I hope the PM’s words move the West to change its attitude towards Muslims changes. Why label the entire Muslim community as terrorists. Muslims themselves have suffered the worst at the hands of the terrorists.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2019.