Dual standards of freedom

Hunaid Lakhani

The writer is Head of Bait-ul-mal Sindh & Founder of Iqra University.

A wise person should understand another’s feelings and respect their sentiments irrespective of their religious belief. It is unacceptable to mock religion and esteemed personalities and then take an aggressive stance on the pretext of defending freedom of speech and expression.

Europe has laws on the limitations of free speech but has criticised sacred Islamic personalities which show its inherent double standards.

When others resort to such actions, there is intense criticism but then these countries defend their own actions as civil liberties and freedom. This is exactly what happened in France in the past few weeks.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) is the most exalted person in the entire universe who taught us the way of living through his actions and teachings – the Holy Quran and Sunnah. He taught us not to hurt the sentiments of other religions or speak ill about their leaders. Allah Almighty sent the Prophet (PBUH) as a blessing for all mankind. He taught us the rights of minorities including protecting churches and other places of worship and said there is no compulsion in religion and forbid forced conversations. He left a message of peace, compassion, and brotherhood which illuminated the world for an eternity.

Due to their misgiving and lack of understanding, many western leaders have failed to understand the exalted status of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the respect Muslims have for him. There have been numerous incidents of blasphemy and desecration of the Holy Quran across Europe. They have not realised that the Holy Quran also mentions the birth of Jesus Christ and defends the honour of Virgin Mary. Despite that many Western leaders and media have supported rising Islamophobic incident and the publications of blasphemous caricatures.

An incident occurred in January 2015 when two brothers attacked the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and killed 18 staff members including the editor and four cartoonists. Last month a teacher Samuel Patty was killed for showing the blasphemous sketches in a classroom and told his Muslim students to close their eyes if they cannot tolerate the sketches. French President Emmanuel Macron has stated that Islam is in crisis and told Muslims to assimilate by accepting the right to publish such sketches if they want stay in France.

Pakistan has urged the UN to take notice of the rising incidents of blasphemy and the attitudes towards Muslims. Foreign Minister Qureshi has warned that seed of hatred that is being sown can have severe consequences and disrupt global peace. Human rights organizations in Europe have turned a blind eye towards discrimination against Muslims. The OIC and our arch enemy Indian has also left no qualms to appease the French while the social media has also been promoting such activities.

Amid the rising Islamophobia, Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote a letter to Facebook founder to take action anti-Muslim content in the same way the social network acted against holocaust denial. This is imperative before Muslims in Europe are treated in the same way as in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The prime minister’s letter reflects the sentiments of the Muslims as the West is using social media as an effective tool against them. The rise of right-wing nationalism in Europe and discriminatory attitudes towards migrants have been ignored and there are growing calls that Muslims should be banned.

The aim of such restrictions is to prevent rising Muslim populations and the spread of Islam in Europe. Mosques have been shut down in many countries and Muslims have been attacked and conditions are being created to force them to leave the country. Muslims today are bitterly divided due to their vested interests and are unable to take any effective action.

The Holy Quran says “And prepare against them whatever you can of power to frighten the enemy of Allah, and your enemy, and others besides them” (8:60). In numerous verses, Muslims have been instructed to remain steadfast to the mantle of Islam. “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.” (3:103). The Muslim world needs to remain united and the respect for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is probably the only issue that will bring them together as one nation.


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