Pakistan condemns permission for desecration of Torah, Bible in Sweden

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Saturday condemned the permission for public desecration of the Torah and Bible in Sweden.

In a statement, the Foreign Office Spokesperson said, “Offensive acts of religious hatred cannot be condoned in the guise of freedom of expression and opinion. As a religion of peace, Islam calls for respect for all religions, sacred personalities and holy scriptures.

“In line with this Islamic ethos, Pakistan has always stressed the need to advance mutual respect, harmony and peaceful coexistence among religions, faiths, and cultures. We call on the international community to condemn, with one voice, all such abhorrent acts of religious hatred, which hurt the sentiments of its followers and constitute deliberate incitement,” she added.

The fresh incident of desecration of a holy book comes of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) approved a resolution on religious hatred on Wednesday.

An Iraqi immigrant to Sweden desecrated the Holy Quran in Stockholm last month and this act of religious hatred drew a strong condemnation from several Muslim states, including Pakistan, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the European Union, Pope Francis and the Swedish government.

Introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the 57-nation OIC, the resolution calls for the UN rights chief to publish a report on religious hatred and for states to review their laws and plug gaps that may “impede the prevention and prosecution of acts and advocacy of religious hatred”.

The United States and the European Union strongly opposed the resolution, saying it conflicts with their view on human rights and freedom of expression. Condemning the desecration of the Holy Quran, they argued the OIC initiative was designed to safeguard religious symbols rather than human rights.

The outcome of Wednesday’s vote marks a major defeat for Western countries at a time when the OIC has unprecedented clout in the council, the only body made up of governments to protect human rights worldwide.

Twenty-eight countries voted in favour of the resolution, 12 voted against and seven countries abstained. Representatives of some countries clapped after the resolution was passed.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman and Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Interfaith Harmony and Middle East, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, in a display of interfaith harmony, Friday strongly criticized the Swedish government for granting permission to burn the sacred scripture, Bible.

Hafiz Ashrafi, in an exclusive talk with APP, said such a decision could lead to religious disharmony, death, and destruction worldwide. “The Bible holds the same sanctity as the Holy Quran according to Islamic teachings.”

He urged the global organizations responsible for human rights and religious affairs to promptly address the matter and take appropriate actions to safeguard peace and tranquility among nations.

The PUC chairman’s condemnation came in response to the controversial decision made by the Swedish government, allowing the burning of the celestial scripture of Bible.

 

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