Pakistan PM calls West to criminalize blasphemy against Islam

PM Imran Khan calls on Western governments to criminalize blasphemy against Islam. He further asked them to treat insult against Islam’s prophet as it does the Holocaust.

Furthermore, PM Imran Khan called for Muslim-majority countries to band together to lobby Western governments to criminalize blasphemy against Islam. He raised his concerns as negotiations between his government and a far-right anti-blasphemy religious group continues.

Moreover, in a televised address to the nation from the capital, Khan said he would lead a campaign. The purpose of this campaign will be to “convince” Western countries on the issue of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. “We need to explain why this hurts us, when in the name of freedom of speech they insult the honour of the prophet,” Khan said.

Also, he said that the campaign will have an effect when 50 Muslim countries will unite. If something like this happens, they will launch a trade boycott and refuse to buy their products. Khan likened the blasphemy issue to that of the Holocaust and said Western nations should consider Muslim sentiments as well.

Nonetheless, Khan’s address came as his government continued to negotiate with the far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) group. The group has held days of violent protests last week and abducted several police officers on April 18. They continued their agitations on the issue of perceived “blasphemy” by the French President Emmanuel Macron.

Besides, since November, the TLP has demanded that Pakistan expel the French ambassador over comments by Macron. Macron defended a publication’s right to republish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. However, Muslims consider it as an act of “blasphemy”.

Nevertheless, blasphemy is a sensitive subject in Pakistan, where certain forms of the crime can carry a mandatory death sentence. Despite that, TLP released the 11 abducted police officers on April 19, as negotiations between the government and TLP began. Pir Ijaz Ashrafi, a central leader of the TLP, told that four TLP activists had also been killed in Sunday’s violence.

Pakistan’s government designated the TLP a “terrorist organization” under anti-terrorism legislation. Also, it would begin the process of delisting the group as a political party recognised by the country’s Election Commission.

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