Nine Envoys Summoned over Cartoon Issue

Pakistan Foreign Office on Saturday summoned envoys of nine European countries to make a strident demarche against the publication and reprinting of blasphemous caricatures first published in a Danish newspaper last September.

Nine Envoys Summoned over Cartoon Issue

Envoys of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Holland, Hungary, Norway and Czech Republic were also handed the resolution adopted by the National Assembly of Pakistan on the issue.

The Foreign Office had earlier summoned the ambassador of Denmark in Islamabad to lodge a strong protest and demand immediate action by the Danish Government against the newspaper and prevent the recurrence of such reprehensible acts.

In a strongly worded statement Pakistan Foreign Office said on Saturday:

"Recent printing of these objectionable sketches in other European countries has again agitated the Muslims around the world. We strongly condemn this recent provocation."

Declaring that Pakistan was keeping "a close watch" on the situation it added: "We believe freedom of expression is not a license to offend the sentiments and disparage the values and beliefs of other people. We ask the European governments to ensure against recurrence of such despicable acts."

In a sharp warning to the European countries Pakistan said: "Such irresponsible acts would seriously jeopardize our common endeavours for enhancing understanding and cooperation between cultures and encourage sinister agendas for clash of civilizations."

Urging the democracies of Europe and the European Union to take appropriate measures to ensure that prejudice and bigotry does not flourish under the guise of free expression, it said: "Such evil motivation should not be allowed to target other peoples and spawn hatred in the world."

On specific steps taken by the government the Foreign Office said it was in touch with Pakistan's Permanent Representative in Geneva who had already convened a meeting of the OIC Group and addressed another letter on behalf of the Group, forcefully taking up the matter with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"In the discussion on the proposed Human Rights Council in the UN General Assembly, our Permanent Representative in New York raised the subject condemning the provocation," it added.

Foreign Office recounted that the publication of offensive drawings in the Danish newspaper 'Jyllands Posten' on Sept 30, 2005, was strongly condemned by Pakistan. It said Pakistan's Permanent Representative in Geneva, in his capacity as the Chairman of the OIC Group in Geneva, addressed a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights seeking his intervention with Denmark to help stem this outrage against Islam.

Moreover, at Pakistan's initiative, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the international community to combat defamation of all religions and curb the tendency of Islamophobia. The Extraordinary Summit at Makkah also emphasized the need to counter defamation of Islam.

In one of the most piercing demarche ever made to the European envoys Pakistan noted that the publication of the derogatory and blasphemous sketches featuring the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the Danish newspaper in September and the recent reprinting in other European countries including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Holland, Norway, Czech Republic and Hungary had caused grievous and profound hurt to the sentiments of Muslims all over the world.

Following are the contents of the demarche: "We condemn the publication and republication of these blasphemous sketches in European papers. The Parliament of Pakistan - representing the will of the people of Pakistan - has also unanimously condemned these despicable provocative acts.

"We reject the false pretext of freedom of press for publishing these caricatures since freedom of expression does not mean absence of any values, ethics or laws, but rather - amongst other things – protection and respect of the rights of individuals as well as their religious and social values. In any event, freedom of expression is not a license to hurt other peoples sentiments or disparage their values.

"All civilized societies are founded on certain moral, religious and social values, which must not be degraded or deprecated in the interest of international amity and harmony.

"To portray the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) in derogatory terms is a violence committed against deeply held beliefs ... and not a manifestation of freedom of expression. We lodge a strong protest to condemn these provocative acts and call upon the concerned governments to ensure against their recurrence."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16