Ambassador Marc Barety was summoned to the foreign office in the capital Islamabad on Monday , a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan criticised French President Emmanuel Macron for “encourag[ing] Islamophobia”.
Last week, Macron hailed Samuel Paty, a French schoolteacher who was killed by an 18-year-old man for showing blasphemic caricatures in his class, as a “quiet hero”.
In recent days Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Macron needed “mental treatment” for his statements. On Sunday, France recalled its ambassador to Ankara over those comments.
“The Ambassador of France to Pakistan was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today to convey the deep concerns over the recent systematic resurgence of blasphemous acts of republication of caricatures of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and desecration of the Holy Quran by certain irresponsible elements,” a statement by Foreign Office said.
It was underscored that such illegal and Islamophobic acts hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world, including those in Pakistan. Furthermore, such actions could not be justified in the name of freedom of expression.
It was further conveyed that Pakistan strongly condemned equating Islam with terrorism, for narrow electoral and political gains. Such provocative statements and actions were fanning inter-religious hatred, hostility and confrontation thereby imperiling efforts of peace and harmony among various segments of society.
It was reiterated that freedom of expression should not be misused as means to attack or hurt public sentiments or religious beliefs and fan inter-religious hatred, hostility and confrontation. It was emphasized that such actions and statements would further divide peoples and civilizations and undermine the global aspirations for peaceful co-existence as well as social and inter-faith harmony.
At a time of rising racism, intolerance and populism, there is a need to promote harmony among peoples and communities instead of reinforcing stereotypes and making people alienated.
Meanwhile, the trade associations in several Arab countries have announced a boycott of French products on Sunday, the same Khan also criticised Macron for his comments, Al-Jazeera TV reported.
“This is a time when Pres[ident] Macron could have put healing touch and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation and marginalisation that inevitably leads to radicalisation,” Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan said in a Twitter post.
“It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists.”
Imran Khan has frequently brought up the issue of rising Islamophobia, especially in Western European countries and the United States, once again focusing on the issue during his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September.
On Sunday, he wrote a public letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg asking the social media platform to place a ban on content deemed to be Islamophobic or encouraging hate against Muslims.
He referenced the platform’s recent decision to ban content that supports the Holocaust genocide against European Jews between 1941 and 1945, or questions its existence.
“Given the rampant abuse and vilification of Muslims on social media platforms, I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust,” Khan said in a copy of the letter published by his office.
“The message of hate must be banned in total – one cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others,” Pakistani Prime Minister said.