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Sacred elements of Islam have been deliberately insulted: Qadri

21 January, 2015

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LAHORE: Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri has written a letter to US President Barak Obama, secretary generals of the UN and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the British prime minister regarding the sacrilegious caricatures, their consequences, reaction in the Muslim world and solution.

"This is a case of abuse of the right of ‘freedom of expression’ and the most sacred elements of Islam have been deliberately insulted," Dr Qadri wrote, adding this has created a great unrest among the Muslims around the world.

Dr Qadri claims in the communiqué that the situation was allowed to spiral out of control, threatening the concept of peaceful co-existence, fearing if not addressed it may lead to a potential clash of civilisations, religions and societies.

Insulting Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) cannot be justified under the garb of free speech, it says further.

The purpose of this memorandum, he wrote, is to bring this issue into perspective and to propose realistic and practical measures to address it. Much of the debate that has ensued from the incident has focused on the right to freedom of expression with its defenders advocating the sacredness of the freedom of speech that needs to be upheld no matter what consequences it bears. However, in reality, this right is not absolute, nor can anyone claim so, he adds.

The letter mentions that every country that claims to be part of the "civilised and democratic" world has imposed its own limits on freedom of expression in the interests of society in order to maintain a certain level of human behaviour, be it based on local norms and customs, culture or religion to protect the dignity of their moral, religious, social and societal values.

Suggesting a few solutions to the issue, Dr Qadri writes that a clear legislation needs to be passed at the UN level to balance the right of freedom of speech with the rights of individuals and communities to faiths and religion and the protection of their sacred beliefs from insult and ridicule.

He suggests that any publication or production in any form that is blasphemous towards the founder of any religion should be declared an offence and a crime. All governments, he added, should ensure that such legislation is enforced through due process of law and chances of incitement and ridicule are eliminated.

Emphasising that common sense should prevail and responsible leaders rise to the occasion and repair the damage done to inter-civilisation relations, he said: "World leaders concerned should display leadership and bravely extend cordiality to the Muslims of the world."

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