There has been an increase in the number of Islamophobic and xenophobic cases around the world particularly Europe. Many countries under the garb of freedom of speech and expression have hurt the religious sentiments of over a billion Muslims and increased religious prejudice.
The notorious French magazine Charlie Hebdo has reprinted sacrilegious caricatures. The magazine was targeted in 2015 and fifteen members of its editorial staff were killed, yet it reprinted the blasphemous pictures considering it an act of defiance rather than a blatant provocation. The French president was hesitant to even condemn the printing and that it was offensive to even French Muslims.
There have also been multiple incidents of the burning of the Holy Quran in Norway and Sweden. These Scandinavian countries are considered the most liberal in the world but have become the hub of far-right activists who have been using Islamophobic for political purposes. There have riots in many Swedish cities including Malmo, which has a majority of migrants, and in Stockholm, while similar incidents were witnessed in Norway but laws to prevent such incidents are not making headway.
It should also be realised that the response of the Muslim world has been muted. There have been very few condemnations and many countries have not even denounced the publication of sacrilegious material. Pakistan has been one of the handful of countries to issue a statement stating that freedom of expression does not given anyone the license to hurt religious sentiments.
Turkish President Erdogan has also condemned the publication but apart from him, leaders of Muslim countries have issued any statement. The OIC which has failed on multiple issues has been not raised its voice even on an issue that affects all Muslim countries. Economic and vested interests cannot be higher than respect for our esteemed Holy Prophet (PBUH) and our religion and it is imperative that there is a strong message is delivered.
Leaders like Erdogan, Imran Khan and Mahathir had called for joint efforts to tackle rising Islamophobia but they seem stalled and need to be expedited. A collective message needs to be given to the global community that such actions are highly unacceptable and should be stopped. Religious sentiments should be an exception to freedom of speech and expression.
The West would never understand the intense feelings that we have for our Holy Prophet (PBUH) and that willingness to sacrifice our lives for his honour and dignity. Such incidents are also a threat to the peace and harmony of Europe and should not be repeated.