Pakistan, speaking for OIC, says holy Quran’s desecration in Sweden represents growing Islamophobia

GENEVA (APP) : Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC, has said that the reason for seeking an urgent debate in the UN Human Rights Council on the burning of a Holy Quran outside a mosque in Sweden was to underscore the need for adoption of effective national legal measures to put an end to such provocative acts.

The desecration of the holy book, which took place outside the Swedish capital Stockholm’s main mosque last week, was carried out by a man during a protest authorized by the police, sparking off a global outrage and diplomatic backlash.

The debate in the Human Rights Council will take place as soon as arrangements are finalized.

“The burning and desecration of the Holy Quran last week, on the day of Muslim festival (Eid al-Adha) and outside a place of worship, was not the only or an isolated act,” Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN offices in Geneva, Khalil Hashmi, told the 47-member Council, pointing out that it was the 6th one in recent months.

These outrageous acts, he said, “represent a clear, growing and recurrent act of religious hatred in full public display and under government license”.

“All of these Islamophobic acts were premediated,” Ambassador Hashmi said.

“Yet we have seen a consistent defence of these acts by conflating them with the exercise of right to freedom of expression and opinion”, he said, adding, “Given the far-reaching implications for public order as well as their offensive and provocative nature, none of these acts were either prevented or prosecuted.”

“The OIC Group has previously and repeatedly registered its grave concerns over these acts of incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence in this Council and called for effective deterrence measures — It is clear that in the absence of legal deterrence, such actions have only continued with a sense of impunity.”

Noting that the latest of this provocative act has been widely condemned, Ambassador Hashmi said mere words were no longer enough. “The status quo which seeks to normalize desecration of sacred books by invoking interpretations grounded in opinions is no longer tenable.

“The recurrence, the impunity and absence of legal deterrence risks serious social, political and human rights impacts that may hinder the realization of our shared vision of peaceful and inclusive societies.

“The OIC Group also wishes to underline that the existing normative framework developed by this Council has not yielded the results that were foreseen,” the Pakistani envoy said.

“Clearly, the absence of effective national legal and policy measures has continued to impede prevention and prosecution of these acts deemed repulsive by billions of people.

“For these reasons, we have called for this urgent debate and presented a draft resolution, proposing an expert discussion on how to prevent recurrence of such acts and development of normative, legal and law enforcement deterrence measures while recognizing that exercise of the right to freedom of expression and opinion carries with it responsibilities and duties as enshrined in international human rights law.,” he added.