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FO summons French ambassador over Macron’s statement: Qureshi

FO summons French ambassador over Macron’s statement: Qureshi

The Foreign Office on Monday summoned the French ambassador, Marc Baréty, over recent remarks made by French President Emanuel Macron, Radio Pakistan reported.

In a statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Macron's irresponsible statement had added "fuel to the fire". "Nobody has right to hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims under the guise of freedom of expression," he said.

The foreign minister also urged the United Nations to take notice and called for action against the hate-based narrative against Islam, the report added.

On Wednesday, Macron had criticised Islamists and vowed not to “give up cartoons” depicting Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). The French president also contended that Samuel Paty, a teacher who was beheaded recently for showing the blasphemous sketches, was “killed beca­use Islamists want our future”.

In the statement released today, Qureshi added that a comprehensive resolution will be presented at the next Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers' meeting proposing to observe March 15 as the International Day against Islamophobia.

Additionally, Special Representative of the Prime Minister on Religious Harmony Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said that the issue of blasphemous sketches would be taken up by the OIC. In a tweet, he said that France had hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims during the month of Rabiul Awwal.

The summoning of the French ambassador comes a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan denounced Macron’s remarks on blasphemous caricatures, calling them “encouragement of Islamophobia”, and wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Mark Zuckerberg seeking a ban on Islamophobic content on the social media site.

In a series of tweets, PM Imran said the sign of a leader was that he united people like former South African president Nelson Mandela.

The premier regretted that the French president had instead chosen to encourage Islamophobia by “attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, white supremacists or Nazi ideologists”.

“By attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, Macron has attacked and hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe and across the world,” he said, adding that, “the last thing the world wants or needs is further polarisation”.

Public statements based on ignorance will create more hate, Islamophobia and space for extremists, he said.

Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to Facebook's CEO, the prime minister asked the social media giant to place a ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam just as it had placed on the Holocaust.

“I am writing to draw your attention to the growing Islamophobia that is encouraging hate, extremism and violence across the world and especially through the use of social media platforms including Facebook. I appreciate your taking the step to rightly ban any posting that criticises or questions the Holocaust, which was the culmination of the Nazi pogrom of the Jews in Germany and across Europe as Nazis spread across Europe," he said in the letter.

“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,” he added.

The Foreign Office on Sunday also issued a statement saying Pakistan condemned in the strongest manner the systematic resurgence of blasphemous acts of republication of caricatures of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and desecration of the Holy Quran by certain irresponsible elements in some developed countries.

“We are further alarmed at highly disturbing statements by certain politicians justifying such heinous acts under the garb of freedom of expression and equating Islam with terrorism, for narrow electoral and political gains,” the statement said.

It said that under international human rights law, the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carried with it special duties and responsibilities.

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