Rising curse of Islamophobia | Pakistan Today

Rising curse of Islamophobia

  • The French President was asking for trouble

French President Macron’s statement that he would not prevent the publishing of insulting caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has rightly sparked outrage in the Muslim World. Early this month he also described Islam as a ‘religion in crisis.’ France recently has launched an extensive witch-hunt against the Muslim community following Macron calling Islam a problematic religion that needed to be contained. He also announced stricter oversight on schooling and better control over foreign funding of mosques. The statement of the French President was made in the wake of the beheading of a teacher by a local Muslim who was angered by the use of blasphemous cartoons.

What the French President said and the steps that are being taken to marginalize the Muslim community there as a state policy, is indeed a regrettable development having the potential of not only harming societal harmony within France but destroying the inter-faith harmony so direly needed to ensure peaceful existence among nations and people of different faiths. The reaction in the Muslim world and the decision by some Arab countries and their trade bodies to boycott French goods as well as severing trade ties with France are strong indicators in this regard. Equating Islam with terrorism on the basis of individual acts of some renegades is the most preposterous proposition and totally unacceptable. What that Muslim youth did was absolutely condemnable and nobody in the Muslim World would endorse it.

We are living in a global village and events in any part of it have direct bearing and consequences for the entire global community. The spill-over of the hate syndrome to different parts of the world does not augur well for peace and tranquility and the global community must make collective efforts to eliminate the rising curse of Islamophobia and the xenophobic steaks that mar societal harmony.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was right on money in condemning Macron’s statement and saying “It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists. Sadly, President Macron has chosen to deliberately provoke Muslims, including his own citizens, through encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam and our Prophet (PBUH).  Hallmark of a leader is he unites human beings, as Mandela did, rather than dividing them. This is a time when Pres Macron could have put healing touch and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarization and marginalization that inevitably leads to radicalization “

The Senate and the National Assembly also passed unanimous resolutions strongly condemning the latest attempt of illegal and Islamophobic acts of republication of blasphemous sketches of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in France under the garb of freedom of expression. As revealed by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan is also contemplating to move a resolution in the forthcoming meeting of the OIC foreign ministers proposing observance of 15 March as International Day against Islamophobia. He also urged the United Nations to take notice and called for action against the hate-based narrative against Islam.

The hate syndrome against Islam and Muslims in the European countries is unfortunately a reaction to acts of terrorism by militants and terrorists, and the inability of the Europeans to understand that religion had nothing to do with the acts of a few renegades and radicalized individuals. Terrorism has no religion as is evident from the acts of terrorism in different European countries carried out by white individuals. To tag the phenomenon of terrorism with the religion of Islam and encouraging blasphemous remarks and publication of insulting caricatures of the prophet is not justifiable for any reason. It assumes greater intensity when it is adopted as a state policy.

The rising tide of Islamophobia in Europe has also coincided with the rise of extreme right-wing parties in some countries. They not only sponsor and support attacks on the members of the Muslim community but are also putting pressure on their respective governments to adopt anti-Muslim laws. The mainstream media, social media and internet have been used to spread misinformation and to generate hysteria. Recent incidents of desecration of Holy Quran in Norway and Sweden are the detestable manifestations of the created hysteria. The massacre of 50 Muslims in New Zealand by a white Australian citizen was the ugliest manifestation of Islamophobia.

In some countries economic marginalization of the Muslims is also being encouraged and practiced. Consequently some groups and lobbies in those countries have even started bringing Islam into disrepute and publish blasphemous material and caricatures of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) with the approving nod of their governments. France and Norway are the countries where this has been happening under the garb of freedom of expression. It is the most outrageous act carried out with an explicit purpose to hurt the feelings of one and half billion Muslims around the world. Sadly the curse of Islamophobia has also gripped India under the BJP regime inspired by the supremacist ideology of Hindutva. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also adopted Islamophobia as a state policy and has recklessly indulged in genocide of Muslims within India and Indian Occupied Kashmir besides denying even fundamental human rights to them, which poses grave threat to peace and security of the region.

The global community and the United Nations must realize the gravity of the situation and take practical steps to check the phenomenon of Islamophobia in its tracks. I think the OIC must adopt a proactive approach in this regard. Perhaps the UN on its part can organize a dialogue between religious leaders of different faiths to set in motion the process for inter-faith harmony and also observing an international day against Islamophobia.

The biggest proponent of inter-faith harmony is Pope Francis, who is on record as having repeatedly said, “It is not right to identify Islam with violence as all religions have a small fundamentalist groups, as such faith is not the only cause of terrorism. Social injustice and idolatry of money are the prime causes of terrorism. If I speak of Islamic violence, I have to speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent.” A supporting verdict has also come recently from the European Court of Human Rights saying that insulting Islam’s prophet is not covered by freedom of expression. Defaming the Prophet (PBUH) goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate and could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace.”

I think the political leaders in the leaders of the European countries also have to act in a responsible manner rising above their political objectives. As rightly said by Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Macron should have put a healing touch instead of creating further polarization which consequently leads to radicalization. A true leader would always strive for promoting harmony among different sections of the society and religious groups.

We are living in a global village and events in any part of it have direct bearing and consequences for the entire global community. The spill-over of the hate syndrome to different parts of the world does not augur well for peace and tranquility and the global community must make collective efforts to eliminate the rising curse of Islamophobia and the xenophobic steaks that mar societal harmony.



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