The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed grave concern over the despicable acts of desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden and Denmark.
The 18th Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC adopted a comprehensive resolution expressing grave concern over increasing incidents of intolerance, discrimination, and rising Islamophobia, a statement from the Foreign Office said.
It reaffirmed the importance of the 8-point action plan unanimously agreed upon by the UN Human Rights Council to counter incitement to hatred, discrimination, stigmatisation, and violence based on religion and belief.
It also called on all governments to fully implement the existing legal and administrative framework or adopt new legislation to protect all individuals against hatred and violence based on religion and belief.
FM Bilawal also attended the 18th extraordinary meeting held in a virtual format.
Addressing the CFM, FM Bilawal condemned, in the strongest terms, the Islamophobic and hateful acts of desecration of the Holy Quran, which manifested religious hatred and intolerance.
He underscored that these acts, and the permission to carry them out, did not constitute freedom of expression.
The foreign minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to work closely with OIC member countries, especially in Jeddah, Geneva, and New York to highlight concerns about the willful acts of the burning and desecration of the Holy Quran.
He welcomed the adoption of resolutions in the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly advocating inter-religious dialogue and shunning religious hatred.
He also called for promoting inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence.
The foreign minister reiterated his proposal, made earlier this year on the occasion of the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, for an action plan which would inter alia include the appointment of a UN Special Envoy to combat Islamophobia and the establishment of judicial mechanisms to hold the perpetrators accountable.
The OIC also voiced “disappointment” with the response by Sweden and Denmark to a spate of Quran burnings that have sparked outrage across the Middle East.
Secretary-general Hissein Brahim Taha called on both countries to prevent Koran desecration and “expressed his disappointment that no measures were taken in this regard so far”, the 57-member, Jeddah-based body said in a statement after the opening session of the meeting.
“It is unfortunate that the concerned authorities claiming freedom of expression continue to provide licences to repeat these acts contrary to international law, and this leads to a lack of respect for religions,” Taha said in remarks during the meeting.
After the meeting ended, the OIC said Taha would lead a delegation to the European Union to urge officials there “to take the necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of such criminal acts under the pretext of freedom of expression”.
It also called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a special rapporteur on combating Islamophobia.
Bilawal speaks to Danish counterpart
Separately, Bilawal also received a call from Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
While on call, the foreign minister raised deep concern about the recent incidents of desecration of the Holy Quran in Denmark and other European countries.
“While acknowledging the Danish government’s outreach to the Muslim world and condemnation of these abhorrent acts,” he stressed the need for stopping Islamophobic acts that hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world.