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Time for Muslim ummah to unite: PM Ashraf

22 September, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday said the Muslim Ummah needed to stand united and seek a permanent solution to ban hate speech, which sowed seeds of discord.

He was addressing a large gathering to mark the Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (PBUH) at the PM Secretariat. The prime minister said the Muslim world needed to work together with other countries towards a mechanism that ensured respect of sentiments for people belonging to all religions. Raja said there was a need to translate the strong sentiments into a unified policy, in coordination with other Muslim countries so that the Muslim Ummah could speak with one voice on such issues.

He said President Asif Ali Zardari would convey the emotions and views of the people when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.

"We are demanding the United Nations and other international organisations to seek a law that bans such hate speech aimed at fomenting hatred and sowing seeds of discord," Raja said. He termed the film a grave violation of all basic norms of humanity, international law, interfaith harmony and UN conventions on religious freedom, tolerance and civilised conduct. "For us, as Muslims, respect and reverence for prophets of other religions is part of our cardinal beliefs. We hope and expect similar respect and reverence for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)," the prime minister said.

He said making of this blasphemous film was not about the freedom of expression but rather an expression of blatant hatred. He said it was a clear reflection of the double standards of the West and was intolerable.

The prime minister said anger, anguish and hurt had increased once it was found that the film was "a deliberate, premeditated act of mischief-mongers based on bias, hatred and prejudice". "If denying the Holocaust is a crime, then is it not fair and legitimate for Muslims to demand that denigrating and demeaning Islam's holiest personality is no less a crime?" Raja remarked. He appreciated those in the international community who had joined the Muslims in strongly condemning the film.

He said no law, philosophy or morality permitted defaming of religious personalities.

He said the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave a message of peace and harmony and was a personality revered by billions around the world for teaching love and respect to the humanity.

Raja said, "Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is paramount to the principles of our great faith of peace, tolerance and harmony. And central to the beliefs of Muslims." An attack on the Holy Prophet (PBUH), he said, was an attack on the core belief of 1.5 billion Muslims, and was completely unacceptable. He said the world today was reeling from the impact of extremism and terrorism and anything that ignited the religious sentiments now could aggravate the situation further. The prime minister said Pakistan was a nuclear state and there was a need to give a positive direction to the people's sentiments so as to demonstrate that the love for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) leads from ignorance to knowledge, brings prosperity in poverty, teaches peace in chaos, tolerance in face of aggression and extremism. He appealed the nation to maintain peace and avoid violence. "It is our collective responsibility to protest peacefully without causing harm or damage to life and property," he added.

He urged the nation to ensure that the lives and properties of foreigners, their embassies and properties in the country were protected at all costs. The government, he said, was working hard to achieve inter-faith harmony and ensure that minorities were fully protected and could participate in the progress and development of the country. The prime minister referred to a saying of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that he would take up the case of a non-Muslim whose place of religious worship was destroyed in an Islamic state. He said no one could dare disregard these directives of the Prophet (PBUH).

He said Pakistan was the only country that officially took up the matter at international level, observed Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (PBUH), declared a holiday, banned YouTube and passed a resolution in its parliament, to protest against the blasphemous film. He said the government had also called for an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to find a solution to the problem. He said the world had to understand that people of all religions had sentiments that needed to be protected and honoured by all others. A large number of religious scholars, clerics, parliamentarians, leaders of political parties and people attended the event.


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