National govts are responsible to take all measures necessary to prevent acts of religious hatred, FO says

Pakistan on Saturday welcomed the Denmark government’s decision, as reported in the media, to propose a bill outlawing the burning of the Holy Quran and other divine books.

“This, we believe, is a step in the right direction,” the Foreign Office said in a statement released today.

Copenhagen, a day earlier, shared its plans to ban Holy Quran burnings after a string of desecrations of Islam’s holy book in the Scandinavian nation sparked anger in Muslim countries.

Denmark stepped up security earlier this month following the backlash, as did neighbouring Sweden which has also seen a spate of Quran burnings in recent months.

The Danish government intends to “criminalise the improper treatment of objects of significant religious importance to a religious community,” Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard told reporters.

According to the FO statement, Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani appreciated Denmark’s proposed legislation in his interaction with the Danish Foreign Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen.

He expressed the hope that the bill, when passed, would create interfaith harmony and bring an end to an environment of hatred amongst people of different religious faiths.

The ministry added that Pakistan has always maintained that desecration and burning of holy scriptures constitute a serious act of religious hatred, which must not be permitted under the guise of freedom of expression, opinion and protest.

“As stipulated by international human rights law and called for by the UN Human Rights Council, such provocative acts must be prevented and prohibited through legal means,” it mentioned.

The FO maintained that the recurrent incidents of the Holy Quran’s desecration during the last few months have hurt the sentiments of over 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide.

“Such abhorrent acts intend to create friction among communities and harm inter-faith harmony and mutual respect. It is the responsibility of national governments to take all measures necessary to prevent these acts of religious hatred, xenophobia and Islamophobia,” the statement read.

Islamabad said it hoped that the step taken by Denmark would culminate in effective legislation to curb the desecration of the Holy Quran and other divine books.

The FO’s statement also mentioned that it hopes other countries will emulate and undertake similar steps to outlaw such hateful acts.

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