Bilawal condemns desecration of Quran, Muslim countries demand action in UN

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari virtually addressing an impromptu debate session organized by the Human Rights Council on July 11, 2023.  - APP
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari virtually addressing an impromptu debate session organized by the Human Rights Council on July 11, 2023. – APP
  • Bilawal called upon the world to stand up against hatred, discrimination and intolerance.
  • Called the insult of the Holy Quran an attack on the Muslim faith.
  • Indonesian foreign minister says, “Stop abusing freedom of expression.”

Islamabad: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday condemned the desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden, saying it continued under government sanction and with a spirit of impunity, as a UN rights body debated a controversial resolution.

Last month, a man – who moved to Sweden from Iraq – burned pages of the Holy Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm on the first day of Eid al-Adha, sparking outrage across the Muslim world and condemnation from Pope Francis.

In its response, Pakistan brought a motion seeking a report from the UN rights chief on the subject and called on states to review their laws and remove loopholes that “prohibit and advocate acts of religious hatred”. may hinder the prosecution”.

The debate highlighted a rift between the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a Muslim group, and Western members on the UN Human Rights Council, over the implications of the proposal for free speech and long-standing practices in protecting rights. Worried about the challenges.

Virtually addressing a session of an impromptu debate organized by the Human Rights Council on acts of religious hatred, Bilawal called upon the world to unite against hatred, discrimination and intolerance and promote mutual respect, understanding and tolerance.

“We must see this provocation as an attempt to incite hatred, discrimination and violence. We must join hands to condemn this, we must isolate those who spread hatred.

FM Bilawal said that three months back the first International Day to Combat Islamophobia was observed where the first session to mark the occasion was held at the United Nations General Assembly.

The minister remarked that the holy Quran is the spiritual foundation for two billion Muslims. “It is important to understand the deep hurt caused to Muslims by a public and premeditated act of desecration of the Quran.”

Terming the desecration of the Holy Quran as an attack on the Muslim faith, Bilawal said that the call for prevention and accountability in the draft text presented before this council was appropriate and necessary.

The minister said that hate speech and free speech should be separated as free speech is as inevitable as hate speech is inevitable.

“There is not a single Muslim country on this planet that allows the desecration of holy books of other religions,” he said, adding that such an act is unimaginable for any Muslim.

“It is forbidden by faith, culture and law,” he said.

His comments were also supported by ministers from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, and the latter called it an act of “Islamophobia”. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said, “Stop abusing freedom of expression.” “Silence means complicity.”

German Ambassador Katharina Stasch described the arson as a “horrible provocation” and condemned it. But he also said that “freedom of expression sometimes means having opinions that can seem almost intolerable”. The French envoy said human rights are about protecting people, not religions and their symbols.

Diplomats said intense talks had produced no breakthrough on Tuesday and they expected a vote. Such a vote would almost certainly pass as the OIC countries make up 19 of the 47-member body and have the support of China and others.

UN human rights chief Volker Turk told the council that provocative acts against Muslims as well as other religions or minorities are “outrageous, irresponsible and wrong”.

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