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Imran Khan calls for unity against ‘Islamophobia’ in the West in letter to Muslim leaders

In the letter, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted 'cycles of violence' and said that Muslim leaders need to reach out to Western countries and educate them on Islam.

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New Delhi: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has written a letter to leaders of Muslim-majority countries to draw attention to the “increasing Islamophobia that is spreading in European countries where sizeable Muslim populations reside”.

“Today, we are confronting a growing concern and restlessness amongst our Ummah (community) as they see the rising tide of Islamophobia and attacks, through ridicule and mockery on our beloved Prophet PBUH in the Western world, especially Europe,” he wrote Wednesday.

While it is unclear which countries the letter was sent to, it follows his recent comments on French President Emmanuel Macron, accusing him of spreading Islamophobia.

After a school teacher was beheaded in Paris on 17 October for showing caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in his class, Macron had defended freedom of speech and said that Islam was a religion in “deep crisis”. He also announced his intention to fight “Islamic separatism” in the same speech.

However, this led to widespread outrage in Muslim-dominated countries such as Turkey, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan and several others. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged people to boycott French goods and also said that Macron “needs mental treatment”.

Also read: How France-Turkey’s probable but unlikely conflict has been shaped by Erdogan’s politics

‘Time to reach out to the other’

In the letter, posted on Twitter, the Pakistani Prime Minister emphasised “covert and overt” discrimination against Muslims in European countries.

Khan mentioned mosques being closed in Europe and Muslim women not being allowed to wear clothes of their choice there.

“I believe the leadership in these countries often acts out of lack of understanding of the intrinsic deep passion, love and devotion Muslims all over the world have for their Prophet PBUH (Peace Be Upon Him) and their divine book the Holy Quran,” he wrote.

Khan urged Muslim leaders to collectively raise their voices against the discrimination. He said it was time to reach out to “the other” and “explain to the Western world that value systems differ for different social and religious and ethnic groups in the world”.

“In this environment, it is incumbent on us as leaders of the Muslim world to collectively take the lead in breaking this cycle of hate and extremism, which nurtures violence and even death. We, as leaders of Muslim polities, must take the initiative to call for an end to this cycle of hate and violence,” he added.

Drawing comparisons with the Holocaust, Khan argued that Muslims have also been killed in several parts of the world. Here he also mentioned “Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir”.

Stating that the world cannot continue on this “hate spiral” that benefits extremism and results in “polarised societies and violence”, Khan wrote, “The time has come for the leaders of the Muslim world to take this message with clarity and unity to the rest of the world, especially the Western world so an end is put to Islamophobia and attacks on Islam and our Prophet PBUH.”

Also read: Muslim world faces divide after Erdogan takes on France for its crackdown on radical Islam


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