Pakistan to launch global campaign against blasphemy

Premier Imran Khan seeks Muslim countries to join campaign against Islamophobia.

Pakistan to launch global campaign against blasphemy

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said he is going to launch a campaign, seeking Muslim countries’ support to raise the simmering issues of blasphemy and Islamophobia at international forums, including the UN and the EU.

"When we begin a campaign by bringing together all Muslim countries [against Islamophobia and blasphemy], it will make a difference and change will come in the West," Khan said at a televised ceremony in the capital Islamabad.

The campaign, he said, will help find a "permanent" solution to these issues.

Otherwise, he added, protests and violence will make no difference to the Western world.

He was referring to the ongoing protests across the country by a far-right religious group –Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) – demanding expulsion of the French ambassador over republication of blasphemous caricatures in France last year.

"There will come a time when people in the Western countries will think twice before disrespecting the Holy Prophet (PBUH)," Khan went on to say.

Last week, Khan urged the Western countries to outlaw blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad on the lines of the Holocaust.

Expressing concern over a rising wave of Islamophobia, particularly in the West, Khan, in a series of tweets, had said: “I call on Western governments who have outlawed any negative comment on the holocaust to use the same standards to penalize those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims by abusing our Prophet (PBUH).”

Pakistan, last week, banned the TLP, however, the group is continuing the protests, mainly in northeastern Lahore city.

According to local media, at least seven people, including policemen, were killed and hundreds others injured in pitched battles between the security forces and the TLP supporters across Pakistan in recent days, according to local media.

Protests had broken out in several Muslim countries over France’s response to the murder in October last year of a teacher who showed cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in class.

French President Emmanuel Macron said at the time that France would “not give up our cartoons” while accusing French Muslims of “separatism” and describing Islam as “a religion in crisis.