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PM urges world leaders to act against online hate

June 13, 2021

By News Desk

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has called upon world leaders to crack down on online hate speech and Islamophobia following the truck attack in Ontario, Canada that killed four members of a Pakistani-origin Muslim family.

“Everyone is shocked in [Pakistan], because we saw the family picture, and so a family being targeted like that has had a deep impact in Pakistan,” Prime Minister Khan told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) chief political correspondent, Rosemary Barton, in an interview posted on its website on Saturday. The CBC is the main news outlet in Canada.

The Prime Minister said the recent pattern of domestic terror in Western countries demanded a heightened focus on online radicalisation. The Prime Minister, to a question about online radicalisation, said: “I think there should be a very strict action against this. When there are these hate websites which create hatred amongst human beings, there should be an international action against them.”

The Prime Minister’s remarks come a week after four members of a family were mercilessly mowed down and a nine-year-old boy suffered serious injuries when they were run over by a pickup truck. Canadian police say the family was targeted because they were Muslim.

Yumna Afzaal, 15, Madiha Salman, 44, Talat Afzaal, 74, and Salman Afzaal 46 were out for an evening walk when they were run over by 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman who police said was motivated by “hatred”. He had allegedly participated in online activity that promoted extremism or violence.

Prime Minister Khan further told CBC that he had raised the issue with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau, describing him as a leader who understands the importance of fighting online hate and Islamophobia.

The Prime Minister urged other leaders to make such commitment. “The world leaders, whenever they decide upon taking action, this will be dealt with,” he said. Khan reiterated that there was “not enough motivation” and that some international leaders, or leaders in the Western countries, actually do not understand this phenomenon. The Prime Minister further said that he “mostly agrees” with Trudeau and his position on extremism, but also expressed concern with some Canadian laws that he believed were contributing to Islamophobia.

Prime minister Khan described Quebec’s Bill 21 — which banned public servants, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols at work — as a form of “secular extremism” that led to intolerance against Muslims.

“You want humans to basically be free to express the way they want to be, as long as it doesn’t cause pain and hurt to other human beings,” he emphasised.

The Prime Minister has been consistently raising the issue of Islamophobia at global fora urging Western governments to swing into action against online hate speech against Muslims living in Western countries.