ISLAMABAD - Backing the voice of the people on the streets, the federal cabinet on Wednesday announced a public holiday on Friday to observe “Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool” (Peace Be Upon Him) to register a national demand against the blasphemous movie that has triggered violent protests by Muslims across the world.
The cabinet’s Wednesday session turned into a special meeting as the agenda was set aside after evolving consensus to debate the issue of blasphemous movie that has hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the globe.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told reporters after the sitting that the meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, deliberated upon a one-point agenda about the hate-mongering movie.
“The cabinet adopted a resolution, unanimously condemning the sacrilegious act and described it a move against Islam that had ignited protest across the Muslim world,” he added.
The minister said no Muslim could tolerate any sacrilegious material against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and it was the responsibility of the government of the country where the movie was produced to take strict action against the culprits.
“The culprits involved in the production, exhibition and uploading of the film on the internet should be brought to book and no leniency should be shown to them,” the minister said. Kaira also supported the idea of summoning the US ambassador to Pakistan to the Foreign Office to lodge a strong protest against the criminal act by the US citizen. However, not only the US ambassador but also the US president had strongly condemned the movie, he added.
Kaira said there was another proposal to hold an emergency meeting of all Pakistani ambassadors to discuss the issue and finalize a strategy to deal with the matter diplomatically.
About blocking Youtube across the country, the minister said the cabinet had discussed the proposal for signing an agreement with Youtube management for blocking the required videos in Pakistan.
Kaira said the government had to block Youtube as Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had no agreement with the Youtube management to block the required links only.
He said the federal cabinet observed that such hateful act might hurt the interfaith harmony in the world and would ultimately incite extremism.
“It is direly needed that the world community and international organizations take notice of the act, condemn it and discourage recurrence of such acts in the future through proper legislation and other necessary measures,” the cabinet said. The cabinet members resolved that they believed in freedom of expression but no individual or organization could be allowed hate speech, writing or footage that may hurt others’ faith and sentiments under its garb.
Kaira said the meeting appealed to the people to maintain peace in their protests and not allow violent elements in their gatherings. The information minister also requested the media to avoid live coverage of violent protests, as it would hurt the main cause and would help violent elements achieve their targets. Kaira said no government in the world was supporting the culprits involved in this crime, rather they were condemning the unholy act so it would not be justified to expel any ambassador.
He said the holiday announced on Friday was only to observe the day as protest day in connection with the anti-Islam film and provinces and private sector business community was also being approached to observe a holiday.
However, he appealed to the nation to remain peaceful during protest marches and rallies and that damaging state and private property would serve no purpose.