Prime Minister Imran Khan called for a collective action by over 50 Muslim countries to end incidents of blasphemy in the West, as he unveils his government’s strategy against the prevailing Islamophobia in a televised address to the nation on Monday.
Imran said that he has written letters to 50 heads of the States of Muslim countries, asking them to collectively raise voice against Islamophobia at every forum as otherwise, the West would continue to think that the Muslims protesting against blasphemy were against the freedom of expression.
Imran’s address to the nation came a day after workers of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) triggered another wave of violence in Lahore. The banned TLP had demanded expulsion of the French ambassador in protest against the publication of blasphemous cartoons in a weekly there.
In his address, the prime minister stressed that protests would never lead to countering hate speech against Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). “Will the blasphemous acts stop by sending the French ambassador back and severing ties with France,” he asked.
Admitting that the “purpose of the TLP and his government was the same but the approach was different” and that “is what needed to be addressed”. He pointed out that there was no protest over the issue in other 50 Muslim states.
“I take responsibility of this campaign [against Islamophobia]; I will lead it and one day we would be successful in making the West understand,” the prime minister said, referring to his efforts to counter Islamophobia in the Western countries.
While explaining the plan to properly combat Islamophobic acts by some extremists in the West, Prime Minister Imran said that the West would understand the gravity of the situation “if all the 50 Muslim states stand united” on the issue.
Initially, he said, the Western countries should be apprised of the Muslims’ attachment with the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and Islam. “It [the West] should then be collectively told that trade would be boycotted if they continue to do so.”
Imran said that Jews have small population but they have made it clear that no negative discussion can take place on the Holocaust. Four European countries put people in jail for speaking against [denial of] the Holocaust, he said.
“Why can’t Muslim states collectively tell the world about the sentiments of 1.3 billion Muslims,” he asked. “France will not be affected if Pakistan [alone] severs ties with it and sends its ambassador back. Severing ties with France would mean severing ties with the European Union [EU],” he added.
Explaining his point, Imran said that “the economy has been put on the right track” after a long time; industry is gaining momentum; exports are increasing and the rupee is strengthening but added that half of the exports would abruptly end if the ties are severed with EU.
“France will not be affected at all by doing any protest in the country,” Imran reiterated. Because of the protests, he revealed, four policemen were martyred; over 800 policemen were injured; 40 police vans were torched; roads were blocked and oxygen supply to hospitals was disrupted.
He also revealed that roughly 400,000 tweets were examined and it turned out that fake news was being spread by Indian websites and users. He added that fake news were also spread through other social media means.
During his speech, the prime minister did not waste the opportunity to criticise the opposition parties – especially the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).
What did the PML-N do in the 1990s after Salman Rushdi wrote a book in 1989, wherein he committed blasphemy. The prime minister accused both the parties of wanting disintegration of the country and destabilization of the government.
After Rushdi’s book, he said, people came out in protest, the US embassy was attacked and people were “martyred”. Since 1989, he noted, Western extremists continued disrespecting Islam with frequent intervals and those countries are least bothered about protest in a Muslim country.
In his speech, Imran also said that Pakistan was the only country that came into existence in the name of Islam and the nation has the greatest and truest respect and love for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The TLP exhibited as if it has more love for the Prophet (PBUH) than others, he said. Commenting on TLP’s protest which led to fatalities, injuries and economic losses, he said, it had no impact on France or any other country.
He reiterated that the purpose of the government and the TLP is the same that “no one should disrespect Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) across the world” but the approach was different. “What did the protestors achieve by hurting the policemen and others?”
The prime minister appealed to the religious scholars to support the government in achieving this goal. He reiterated what the government ministers had been saying that the TLP was negotiating with the government and, simultaneously, it called protest which led to arrests and other decisions.