PAKISTAN, on Monday, joined the Islamic world in strongly condemning yet another abhorrent act of desecration of the Holy Quran and said such acts can in no way be a smokescreen for freedom of expression. It called on all states to develop legal deterrence with a view to preventing and prosecuting such acts, in line with the responsibilities and duties enshrined in international human rights law.
A week before, the European Islamophobia Report 2022 named Denmark as the most vulnerable country for Muslims, along with France and Austria and Friday’s dastardly act of burning of a copy of the Holy Quran by a far-right group confirmed the extreme anti-Muslim bias that exists in that country. Interestingly, according to the World Population Review of 2019 there are 313,713 Muslim living in that country constituting just 5.4% of the entire population but even this small minority is not acceptable or bearable for a country claiming to be one of the champions of human rights. It is also shameful that Muslims are made a target of hate and hate crimes in the name of freedom of expression, as if this right is only exclusive to the majority living in Denmark or similar other countries. It is rightly pointed out that this phenomenon is not the product of recent days as the hate speeches of politicians against Muslims, which are often openly acceptable in society, has been the case for several years and in fact all this encouraged extremist groups to indulge in frequent and repeated acts to injure feelings of and degrade Muslims. In fact, Danish, French and Austrian governments are hands in glove with those perpetuating acts of violence and extremism against Muslims and ridiculing/insulting their Prophet (PBUH) and their Holy Book as they are silent spectators to such crimes against Muslims. One can imagine the level of suffocation for Muslims in Denmark from the fact that the inclusion of a song by a Muslim songwriter in a children’s schoolbook was met with harsh criticism where the songwriter was labelled a terrorist and the inclusion of the song was seen to be contrary to the purpose of the book, to teach about Danish identity. This, to some extent, explains the mentality behind rising Islamophobia in Denmark and repeated provocative acts call for collaborative approach to address the menace. While denouncing the latest sacrilegious acts, Pakistan has rightly called for evolution of a legal deterrence against such extremist behaviour but the objective would not be achieved merely by issuing calls. Islamophobia is assuming dangerous proportions and it is the responsibility of the OIC to take practical steps to counter the growing discriminatory behaviour against Muslims and their religion.