Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday emphasised that religion has no link to terrorism and that it is “marginalisation of communities [that] leads to radicalisation”. Pakistan and Turkey co-hosted a round table discussion on hate speech, a side event in the margins of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The prime minister along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressed the conference, which also featured a Key Note address by High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations Miguel Ángel Moratinos. In his remarks, the premier noted the growing amount of “discrimination and violence based on religion and belief”, a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan called for effective measures to counter hate speech and Islamophobia. Noting the growing incidence of discrimination and violence based on religion and belief, the premier underscored the importance of addressing both the drivers and consequences of these phenomena. He rejected attempts to equate Islam with terrorism, noting that such self-serving approaches were dangerous and therefore should be eschewed. To this end, he called upon the need for addressing “both the drivers and consequences of these phenomena”. PM Imran also cautioned against the denigration of revered personalities under the guise of “freedom of expression and opinion”.
“The world must understand Muslim sensitivities for Islam and the reverence for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH,” he said. He underscored the need for effective measures to be put in place so that hate speech, especially that which stems from Islamophobia, can be countered.
“Marginalisation of any community leads to radicalisation,” he said. Prime Minister Imran Khan called for effective measures to counter hate speech and Islamophobia.
Noting the growing incidence of discrimination and violence based on religion and belief, the premier underscored the importance of addressing both the drivers and consequences of these phenomena.
He rejected attempts to equate Islam with terrorism, noting that such self-serving approaches were dangerous and therefore should be eschewed. The prime minister, during his address, said that “desperate human beings” throughout history have committed what are known as suicide attacks. “Before 9/11, 75 per cent of suicide attacks were by Tamil Tigers who were Hindus. No one talked about Hinduism having anything to do with suicide attacks.”
He said when Japanese suicide bombers attacked American ships during World War II, no one blamed their religion. “Because religion has nothing to do with […] no religion has anything to do with terrorism,” he stressed.
“Almost all terrorism is connected to politics. It is politically perceived injustices that produce desperate people. “But now we keep hearing about radical Islam. There is only one Islam. The Islam of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which we follow. There is no other Islam.” He said that in communities, majority individuals are moderates with liberals on one end of the spectrum and fanatics on the other end and it was the same case in societies everywhere.
“What about the White supremacist that killed 49 worshippers in New Zealand? What has that got to do with religion?” he went on to say, appealing to the better sense of all those listening.
The premier urged the need to recognise that a greater understanding and tolerance between various communties across the globe needs to be promoted. He said that the UN, as a platform, provides the right space “to evolve an informed discourse on countering hate speech”.
President Erdogan said that hate speech “emerges before worst crimes against humanity” and observed that Muslims remain the most vulnerable community to hate speech in the world.
He cited incidents in India where Muslims had been “lynched for eating beef”. “Kashmir has been turned into an open prison. We fear blood shed there,” the Turkish president further remarked.
According to a handout by the UNAOC, the high-level roundtable “is aimed at identifying measures and approaches required to effectively address and mitigate the impacts of hate speech on societies across the world, with a view to fostering tolerance and inclusivity”.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in New York, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that US President Donald Trump had asked him to help defuse tensions with Iran, adding that he had already spoken with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an attempt to mediate.
The premier said: “I immediately spoke to President Rouhani yesterday after the meeting with President Trump, but I can’t say anything right now more than this except that we’re trying and mediating.”
Prime Minister Imran said that prior to arriving in New York he had visited Saudi Arabia and spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who also asked him to talk to Rouhani.