PM Imran urges world leaders to crack down on online hate following Ontario attack

Speaks with CBC, stresses action against online extremism in wake of recent terror incidents in the West 


News Desk June 12, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing a live broadcast session on May 11, 2021. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged world leaders to crackdown on online hate and extremism following the deadly Ontario truck attack that targeted members of a Pakistan-origin family.

"Everyone is shocked in [Pakistan], because we saw the family picture, and so a family being targeted like that has had a deep impact in Pakistan," the premier told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) during a recent interview.

On June 6, a Canadian Muslim family of Pakistani-origin lost members from three generations after it was targeted in a “religiously motivated” attack. A pick-up truck ran over them in the south of Canada's Ontario province while they were waiting on the sidewalk to cross the road. Police said the family fell prey for being Muslim and the attack appeared to be a “premeditated” one.

Talking about online radicalization, PM Imran told the interviewer that there should be very strict action against the same.

"When there are these hate websites which create hatred amongst human beings, there should be international action against them," he maintained.

The premier stressed heightened focus on online radicalization in view of the recent pattern of domestic terror attacks in Western countries.

Also read PM saddened over killing of Pakistani-origin family in Ontario

The perpetrators of those involved in recent killings in Canada — the 2017 attack at a Quebec City mosque and the 2018 Yonge Street van attack in Toronto — participated in online activities that investigators believe may have contributed to their radicalization.

Talks with PM Trudeau

Imran said he had raised the issue of online hate with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom he described as someone that "understands the importance of fighting online hate and Islamophobia".

Other leaders, PM Imran added, have not yet made the same commitment.

"The world leaders, whenever they decide upon taking action, this will be dealt with," he said.

"The problem is at the moment, there is not enough motivation and that some international leaders, or leaders in the Western countries, actually don't understand this phenomenon," premier observed.

Canadian laws

PM Imran told the Canadian broadcaster that he "mostly agrees" with Trudeau and his stance on extremism, but he is concerned about some Canadian laws that he believed contributed to Islamophobia.

He referred to Quebec's Bill 21 — which banned public servants, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols at work — as a form of "secular extremism" that could lead to intolerance against Muslims.

"You want humans to basically be free to express the way they want to be, as long as it doesn't cause pain and hurt to other human beings," the premier concluded.

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