Freedom of speech being used to offend, says PM
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday said that the anti-Islam film had hurt his sentiments but that of Muslims across the world, DawnNews reported.
Addressing a large gathering at the PM Secretariat to mark the Youm-i-Ishq-i-Rasool to protest the making of a blasphemous film, the prime minister said the Muslim world needed to work together with other countries to find a solution that ensures respect of the sentiments of people of all religions.
He said the stature of the Prophet could not be discredited by any one, despite their nefarious attempts.
The prime minister said unfortunately in the recent past, there had been a number of incidents of blasphemy by those who wanted to create chaos in the world.
He said the Prophet gave a message of peace and harmony and was a personality revered by billions around the world.
Prime Minister Ashraf said any attack on the life or teachings of the Prophet was an attack on the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims and was unacceptable.
He said the making of the notorious film was not about freedom of expression, but was an expression of blatant hatred. He also termed it a clear reflection of double standards, maintained by the West and said it was intolerable.
He rejected the justification that any attempt to defame the religiously revered personalities was permitted as freedom of expression. He said no law, philosophy or morality permitted that those personalities who had the highest of the stature and were revered by the Muslims be defamed by any means.
He said anyone even daring to speak a word against the Holocaust was punishable, but the feelings and sentiments of Muslims were being totally disregarded.
The prime minister said the world today was reeling from the impact of extremism and terrorism and any thing that further ignites the religious sentiments of any religion could further aggravate the situation.
He however urged the nation to ensure that the lives and properties of foreigners, their embassies and properties in the country, be protected at all cost.
He said Pakistan was the only country that officially took up the matter at an international level, observed a Youm-i-Ishq-i-Rasool and passed a resolution.
Prime Minister Ashraf said the government had also called for an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to find a solution of the problem.
He said President Asif Ali Zardari would convey the emotions of the Pakistani people when he addresses the UN General Assembly next week in New York.
The prime minister said the world had to understand that people of all religions had sentiments that needed to be honoured by all.
He said the government was working hard to achieve inter-faith harmony and to ensure that the country’s religious minorities were fully protected and could participate in the progress and development of the country.
The prime minister said the lives and property of the minorities living in an Islamic state were the responsibility of the people and no one would be allowed to take any adverse action against them.
Public transport, business houses, shopping plazas, educational institutions, banks and courts and other public and private offices remained closed across the country on Friday designated as the Yaum-i-Ishq-i-Rasool (‘Love for the Prophet’ day).
Political and religious organisations were taking out processions against the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” that has triggered protests across the world.
The federal cabinet had decided on Wednesday to observe the day and declared it a public holiday.
The film has fuelled outrage across the Muslim world, with more than 30 people killed worldwide during more than a week of attacks and violent protests linked to the controversial film. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have all blocked access to YouTube, following the video-sharing website’s failure to take down the movie.
There have been furious protests outside US embassies and other American symbols in at least 20 countries, and the American ambassador to Libya and three other US diplomats in the North African country have been among those killed.