The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time ever and has used the moment to advocate for a more just society, holding wealthy people more accountable, and a plea to world leaders to help end Islamophobia.
Pakistani Prime Minister Speaks out Against Islamophobia
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told world leaders at the United Nations on September 27, 2019, that there is no such thing as “radical Islam” and that Islamophobia is growing at an alarming pace.
He blamed both Western and Muslim leaders for their role in increasing Islamophobia.
“Islamophobia since 9/11 has grown at a pace which is alarming,” Khan said while addressing the UN General Assembly. “Certain Western leaders equated terrorism with Islam.”
No Such Thing as “Radical” Islam, Pakistan PM says
Khan said employing labels such as “radical Islam” our part of the problem because the concept is intrinsically contradictory.
“No religion teaches radicalism,” Khan said. “The basis of all religion is compassion and justice, which differentiates us from the animal kingdom.”
The Prime Minister argued that the use of “radical Islam” by Western leaders has created an association between a whole religion and terrorism. This practice has put people in the position of suspecting all Muslims, Khan says.
“How is a person in New York, in a European country, or in the Midwest of the US going to distinguish between who’s a moderate Muslim and who’s a radical Muslim?” Khan asked.
Khan also said Muslim leaders are equally at fault. The fear of being labeled as radical, he says, has made them embrace the concept of moderate Islam.
“In Pakistan,” Khan said, “our government coined the phrase ‘enlightened moderation.’ No one knows what it meant.”
“We, as the Muslim world, did not explain to the West that there was no such thing as radical Islam,” Khan added.
Religious Tolerance and Understanding the Beliefs of Others
Khan says some of the aspects that may lead some to think of Islam as “an intolerant religion, against freedom of expression.”
The Prime Minister added that the perception that such reactions are exaggerated stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding of the way Muslim people think about religion.
“When I first went to England, there was a comedy film on Jesus Christ,” Khan said. “That’s unthinkable in Muslim societies.”
The Prime Minister explained that any kind of criticism or mocking of the Prophet is something that generates emotional pain amongst his followers.
Khan said that others need to be sensitive toward this, rather than assume that all cultures accept the same standards.
“In human communities, we have to be sensitive towards what causes pain to other human beings,” Khan proclaimed. “In the Western society, and quite rightly, the Holocaust is treated with sensitivity, because it gives the Jewish community pain.”
“That’s all we ask,” Khan continued, “do not use freedom of speech to cause us pain by insulting our holy prophet. That’s all we want.”