Pakistan, Bosnia seek interfaith dialogue to stem Islamophobia in West
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan urged Western nations Wednesday to desist from using freedom of speech as an "instrument" to hurt the feelings of Muslims, warning it will lead to more radicalization and violence.
Khan told a joint news conference with visiting Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sefik Dzaferovic the two leaders condemned recent terrorist acts by Muslims in France and Austria. The two sides, he said, also underline the importance of respect for every religion, specifically Muslims living in Europe.
Khan stressed that mocking of Prophet Muhammad and publication of blasphemous caricatures cause "the greatest pain" to the Muslim community.
"European powers, Western countries must understand that you cannot use freedom of speech as a weapon to cause Muslims pain by insulting our Prophet. Unless this is understood, the cycle of violence will keep happening," Khan cautioned.
Dzaferovic also denounced what he described as "the rampant Islamophobia," saying while human freedom is and should be "unlimited," it is unacceptable that religious feelings of Muslims are insulted.
"We need to build bridges, we need to meet, we need to build unity around diversity," Dzaferovic said.
Last month, a history teacher was decapitated outside a school near Paris after he had shown his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad when the class discussed free speech. While French authorities were investigating the slaying of Samuel Paty and cracking down on suspected Islamist militants, a Tunisian man fatally stabbed three people in a cathedral in Nice.
French President Emmanuel Macron has defended the right of publishers in his country to depict cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which Muslims deem as blasphemous. His comments have drawn condemnation and triggered anti-France street protests in Muslim countries.
Last week, Macron told al-Jazeera that he "understands the feelings of Muslims about the caricatures," but he insisted it was not his role as president to restrict freedom of expression for causing offense. The French leader asserted the "radical Islam" his government is combating threatens all, especially Muslims.
A shooting spree Monday in central Vienna, Austria, killed at least four people and wounded 14 others. Police fatally shot the gunman and later identified him as 20-year-old Kujtim Fejzulai. Islamic State claimed credit for being behind the deadly shooting.