ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan pledged on Monday to take up at the United Nations the issue of a cartoon competition, announced by a rightwing, anti-Islam politician in the Netherlands who wants the participants to make mocking images of Prophet Muhammad.
Khan was talking to the upper house, the senate, after the house passed unanimously a resolution against a blasphemous cartoon competition.
Khan described the recurrence of such incidents in Europe as a “collective failure” of Muslim countries, adding it was important to galvanize them to tackle the challenge and present a unified perspective on the subject to the international community.
In his maiden speech to the Senate as the country’s prime minister, Khan emphasized the need to deal with the issue at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
He questioned the notion of freedom of expression in such matters, highlighting its limitations in Europe itself where it is not legally permissible in certain countries to deviate from the officially accepted accounts of the Jewish holocaust.
Khan said it was not right to hurt the sentiment of any community, regardless of their faith.
He noted that it was also imperative for others to honor Muslim sensitivities in the same spirit since it was difficult for the follower of Islam to tolerate mocking depictions of their Prophet.
Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, had pledged to hold the cartoon competition at his party’s parliamentary offices, claiming: “Freedom of speech is threatened, especially for Islam critics. We should never accept that. Freedom of speech is our most important freedom.”
More recently, Pakistan’s Foreign Office had summoned the charge d’affaires of Netherlands to register “strong protest” against the idea of holding such a contest.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has already claimed that Wilders is “not a member of the government,” adding that the competition is not an official initiative.