Addressing the Ishq-e-Rasool (Love for Holy Prophet PBUH) Conference, the prime minister said freedom of expression didn’t mean revered personalities be made a target, adding that protest against such despicable acts was a religious duty. Raja sought united stance by the Muslim Ummah in order to secure a permanent solution to prevent insulting the religious personalities of any religion.
The Muslim world, he emphasised, needed to work together with other countries to find a solution to this critical issue, regretting that some miscreants had tried to bring into defame the most honourable and revered personality of the world, and of the entire humanity, of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Raja said the Muslim countries should formulate a unified policy to impress upon the world community that the Muslims are enraged over the profane acts and want an end of them.
He said the world today was threatened by the religious extremism and one of the reasons of extremism was disrespect to other religions. “The miscreants have targeted the greatest personality of the universe whom no power on earth could ever cause any damage.” On its part, the prime minister said, Pakistan had started interfaith dialogue process and also carved out a Ministry for Minorities’ Affairs. Appreciating the minorities for their support in the wake of screening of blasphemous film, Ashraf said “We will also stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them for the protection of their rights. We also appreciate those in the international community who joined Muslims in condemning this act.”
He said it was the right of the Pakistani people to express their strong sentiments against the blasphemous movie. He, however, added that these sentiments need to be given a constructive direction in order to transform the Muslims into a socioeconomic and political power.
The prime minister said the sentiments of the Muslims were not taken care of, while the debate on holocaust was forbidden. “Pakistan has the right to protest against the anti-Islam film and added that all the religions, beliefs and the revered personalities must be respected.”
He said Pakistan was the only Islamic country observing protest day officially and President Asif Ali Zardari would be taking up the issue in the General Assembly of the United Nations.
He said anti-social elements were using the concept of freedom of speech in an offensive manner, adding that, Islam was a religion of peace and preached respect for all faiths.
He warned if such actions did not stop, they would create instability worldwide. He said we want such a resolution of the matter which had international support and protection so that such sacrilegious acts could be averted in future.
He pointed out that desecration of last Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had witnessed an upsurge in recent years in the name of freedom of expression.
“This is not freedom of expression. This is more about hatred and demonstrates blatant double standards.”
Raja said the personality of Holy Prophet (PBUH) was paramount to the principles of the great faith of peace, tolerance and harmony and central to the beliefs of Muslims.
He said an attack on the Prophet (PBUH) was an attack on the core belief of 1.5 billion Muslims. “This is something that is unacceptable. Our faith remains incomplete without total devotion and reverence to the Prophet. The anguish and hurt is even deeper after the discovery that the profane act was based on biased, hatred and prejudice.”
Raja said the Holy Prophet gave the message of peace and harmony and appealed the nation to maintain peace and avoid violence.
“It is our collective responsibility to protest peacefully without causing harm or damage to properties or lives.”
He said as the punishment of one’s crime could not be given to another person, similarly it was not right to damage the foreign diplomatic missions. He urged the clerics to use their influence over masses to help stopping the violence.
Later, in a statement, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf expressed his concern over the violence that has erupted across the country on the occasion of Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool.
The Prime Minister said that the love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is best expressed by following his teachings of peace and harmony.
Destroying property and resorting to violence negate the spirit of Islam and teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), he added.
He appealed to the nation to remain calm and peaceful to maintain the sanctity and reverence of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Sacrilege be declared a global crime