Photo credit: Chatham House (CC BY 2.0

Pakistan calls Muslim nations to ban trade with the West unless it punishes Islam’s critics

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called on all 50 Muslim-majority nations around the world to boycott trade with Western countries that fail to punish critics of Islam.

The comments come following a series of significant violent anti-French demonstrations across Pakistan, after the French government indicated it will support the right of magazines like Charlie Hebdo to insult religions like Islam as on the basis of free speech.

The Pakistani prime minister called for Muslim nations to act with unity and and boycott trade with Western governments that do not criminalise blasphemy towards Islam’s founder, Muhammad.

“We need to explain why this hurts us,” Khan said during a televised address on Monday.

“In the name of freedom of speech they insult the honour of the prophet. When 50 Muslim countries will unite and say this, and say that if something like this happens in any country, then we will launch a trade boycott on them and not buy their goods, that will have an effect.”

Last week Khan lashed out at “extremists abroad who indulge in Islamophobia and racist slurs”, and warned critics of Islam that Muslims “cannot tolerate any such disrespect and abuse”, even going so far as to compare “blasphemy” against Islam to Holocaust denial, which is illegal in many European countries.

He called on Western governments “who have outlawed any negative comment on the Holocaust to use the same standards to penalise those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims by abusing our Prophet.”

Pakistan is well known for its draconian blasphemy laws – just earlier this month two Christian nurses were arrested and are currently facing a potential death penalty after they were accused of removing a sticker that displayed a verse from the Qu’ran on a Muslim colleague’s locker.

Other high profile cases include Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who spent 8 years in a Pakistani prison and was sentenced to death by hanging for the alleged crime of blasphemy. However, in 2019, after an appeal, the Pakistani Supreme Court acquitted her due to there being insufficient evidence. She has since fled Pakistan for her safety.

The Pakistani government has accused French President Emmanuel Macron of “blasphemy” in recent weeks, sparking violent Islamist riots nationwide, with extremist groups even kidnapping multiple police and holding them hostage.

Today the French parliament is considering expelling the French ambassador over the issue, with the French embassy urging French citizens based in Pakistan to leave the country for their own safety.



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