Strongly condemning the senseless and deeply offensive act of desecration of the Holy Quran in Denmark, Pakistan on Saturday urged the international community to take steps to prevent such hateful and Islamophobic acts.
Notorious anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan, a Danish-Swedish dual national, first burnt a copy of the holy book near a mosque in the Danish capital and then a second copy outside the Turkish embassy a day earlier.
In a statement, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said, “This repetition of the vile act leaves little doubt in the minds of Muslims around the world that freedom of expression is being blatantly abused to spread religious hatred and incitement to violence.”
The spokesperson mentioned that Pakistan’s concerns were being conveyed to the authorities in Denmark.
“We urge them to be mindful of the sentiments of the people of Pakistan and Muslims around the world and take steps to prevent such hateful and Islamophobic acts,” she added.
The spokesperson also called into question the legal framework behind which the Islamophobes hide and spread hatred with impunity.
At a time when there was an increasing need for inter-faith harmony and mutual respect for peaceful coexistence, the international community could not turn a blind eye to these hatemongers, she added.
Pakistan reiterated its considered position that freedom of expression came with responsibilities.
“Pakistan also believes that it is the responsibility of the national governments as well as the international community to prevent these racist and Islamophobic acts”, the spokesperson added.
Furious that Paludan was allowed by police to carry out the protest, Ankara cancelled a visit by Sweden's defence minister and summoned Stockholm's ambassador, and later the Dutch ambassador.
The incidents have been condemned by world leaders as well as the United Nations and the European Union.
In another abhorrent incident, Edwin Wagensveld — a Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands — tore pages of the holy book near the Dutch parliament after stomping on them.
The incident took place on Sunday last week, however, the police did not intervene, according to media reports.
Several thousand people rallied across the country after Friday prayers to voice outrage over targeting the Holy Quran in Sweden and the Netherlands.
At least 5,000 people marched through the second-largest city of Lahore chanting "Quran is printed in our hearts" and "I am a protector of the Quran" in a rally organised by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) held a protest demonstration against the desecration of the Holy Quran in Karachi. Swedish flags were torn up in both cities.
Protests were also held in several cities in neighbouring Afghanistan, where men, some carrying Taliban flags, were allowed to take part in rare and brief street demonstrations sanctioned by the authorities.
Around 1,000 men gathered in the eastern city of Jalalabad chanting: "Death to infidels, Death to Sweden, Death to America."
Demonstrations have also broken out in Iraq, while Indonesia summoned Sweden's envoy and Egypt called for a boycott of Swedish and Dutch products.
Additional input from AFP.
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