PAKISTAN: ISLAMOPHOBIA TAKES TO THE STREETS

LIAM ROGERS WRITES — The people and government of Pakistan are protesting French President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the killing of a French high school teacher, Samuel Paty, on October 16th, as well as Macron’s anti-separatism bill signed into law October 2.  Meanwhile.the French government has begun closing mosques, naming them as  a source of “involve[ment] in the Islamist movement.”

The October 27 demonstration in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, was the biggest to date. Ten thousand protestors marched against French anti-Muslim sentiments. An estimated two thousand tried marching towards the French embassy but were deterred by law enforcement using tear gas. As beatings took place, and all throughout the country, protestors stepped on posters bearing President Macron’s face.

This is a global crisis. While the Pakistani government looks for a formal apology from the French state, the citizens of Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Gulf countries are protesting Islamophobia. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is looking to rally still more Islamic countries and large multinational companies. A letter that Prime Minister Khan’s office sent to the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, on October 25th condemns “encouraging hate, extremism and violence across the world, and especially through the use of social media platforms, including Facebook.” Khan’s plea to Mr. Zuckerberg is for Islamophobic posts to be censored in the same manner that Facebook censors Nazi sentiments.

Also in his letter, Khan specifically deplores India’s move to deny citizenship to Islamic people as evidence of global Islamophobia.

He adds that the collective Islamic states must stand together in what he calls, “a dangerous cycle of action and reaction.’  He adduces the denial of women being allowed to wear clothing of their choice, the closure of mosques in Europe and the killings in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Indian Controlled Jammu and Kashmir.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has joined Prime Minister Khan in criticizing the French government’s response to the killing. Together, these two countries are leading the fight against Islamophobia. As Khan put it via twitter: “This is a time when President Macron could have put a healing touch and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarization and marginalization that inevitably leads to radicalization.”

In order for the world to be a safer place for Muslims – especially in the Western world – the united forces of Islamic and western leaders must continue to join together and condemn such polarization.

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