Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday explained that his government had taken action against the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) because it challenged the writ of the state and used street violence, attacking the public and law enforcers.
In a series of tweets, the prime minister explained the state’s rationale and the actions it took to control violence after hundreds of policemen were injured in clashes with workers of the religiopolitical party.
“Let me make clear to people here & abroad: Our govt only took action against TLP under our anti-terrorist law when they challenged the writ of the state and used street violence & attacking [sic] the public & law enforcers. No one can be above the law and the Constitution,” PM Imran Khan said in his first direct statement on the matter.
My message to extremists abroad who indulge in Islamophobia & racist slurs to hurt & cause pain to 1.3 bn Muslims across the globe: We Muslims have the greatest love & respect for our Prophet PBUH who lives in our hearts. We cannot tolerate any such disrespect & abuse.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 17, 2021
On Thursday, the federal government had declared the TLP a proscribed organisation under anti-terrorism laws and launched a broad crackdown against the party. The action came after days of violent protests and traffic disruptions in the largest cities of Pakistan, which saw public and private property damaged by gangs of hooligans bearing sticks and turning on law enforcement officials at will.
West should apology, Khan
The prime minister, in his statement, also criticised elements worldwide who he said indulge in Islamophobia and racist slurs “under the guise of freedom of speech” to hurt and cause pain to the 1.3 billion Muslims across the globe.
“We Muslims have the greatest love & respect for our Prophet PBUH who lives in our hearts. We cannot tolerate any such disrespect & abuse.”
I also call on Western govts who have outlawed any negative comment on the holocaust to use the same standards to penalise those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims by abusing our Prophet PBUH.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 17, 2021
Demanding an apology from those who hurt Muslims’ sentiments, PM Imran said that those in the West, including extreme right-wing politicians, who deliberately indulge in abuse and hate under the guise of freedom of speech, “clearly lack moral sense and courage”.
“I also call on Western governments who have outlawed any negative comment on the Holocaust to use the same standards to penalise those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims by abusing our Prophet PBUH,” he added.
Khan seeks ban on Islamophobic content
Notably, Imran Khan also sought a ban on Islamophobic content on Facebook, similar to the ban Facebook has for content on the Holocaust.
My letter to CEO Facebook Mark Zuckerberg to ban Islamophobia just as Facebook has banned questioning or criticising the holocaust. pic.twitter.com/mCMnz9kxcj
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 25, 2020
In a letter to the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Pakistani premier said that growing Islamophobia was “encouraging hate, extremism and violence across the world, and especially through the use of social media platforms, including Facebook.”
In the letter, Khan called out “anti-Muslim laws” in India and France’s decision to allow the “publication of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam and our Holy Prophet.”
PM Imran highlighted Islamophobia at UNGA
Noting that there were 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, PM Imran explained that Islamophobia, “since 9/11, has grown at a pace which is alarming”. This menace, he said, was creating a division. The premier, highlighting hypocrisy around the world, said: “A woman can take off her clothes but cannot put on more clothes?
“Hijab has become an issue in some countries. It is seen as a weapon,” he said. PM Imran said there were terms like radical Islam and Islamic terrorism and that was what was contributing to the spread of Islamophobia.
“How is a person in New York, in Midwest in the US, or in Europe, how is he going to distinguish” between the two versions of Islam considering the rise of Islamophobia, PM Imran asked. “Terrorism has nothing to do with any religion,” he emphasised. The term, he noted, was “used by some leaders [and] it has caused pain among the Muslims.
“Muslim countries watch Islamophobia travelling [and spreading and] it is getting worse,” he said. “In the European countries, it is marginalising the communities and marginalisation leads to radicalisation.
“After 9/11, it came as war against radical Islam [but] in all communities, there are radicals,” the PM said, adding that Islamophobia had bumped the hatred against the Muslim community and that it was almost like physical pain.