Mardan Burnt Church
ISLAMABAD: The Chairman Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC), Maulana Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, said that no religion preaches or teaches hate or violence but unfortunately in every religion there are individuals like ‘Terry Jones’, who preach hatred and incite violence while using the platform of religion, which results in instant adverse global repercussions.
Addressing a press conference here in Islamabad on Sunday, along with the representatives of Christian, Hindu, Sikh and other religions minorities, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi strongly condemned the latest act of ‘hate preaching’ by the US national film maker who tried and succeeded in triggering a grand wave of religious violence at international level.
The meeting also reviewed the report presented by the Chairman Pakistan Interfaith League (PIL), Sajid Ishaq, about the fact finding mission’s visit to the site of Sarhadi Lutheran Church in Mardan and expressed concern over the unfortunate incident and urged the provincial government of the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhawa (KPK) as well as the federal government to take necessary steps for the reconstruction of the Church as well as for compensating the affected members of Christian community and ensure safety and security in future.
“We respect and support the international right granted to individuals for free speech and expression but this particular act and the series of the like in the past does not fall under the umbrella of this right because this is clearly a grave violation of the sacred religious feelings and sentiments of over a billion Muslim population of the world as well as it has equally annoyed and disgusted every sane person belonging to any religion all over the world,” the Chairman PUC said.
He pointed out that such acts of incitement, be in the shape of a video movie, sketches or writings, fall under the ‘International Convention for Civil and Political Act’ of the United Nations to which all the countries are signatories, including the United States of America and as such these acts should be considered under this Act and should not be provided protection under the ‘Freedom of Speech & Expression Act’.
“We, the people here today, all are united on this point that no religion permits violence or preaches hate against any other religion. So, what we have to do is to condemn such acts in the strongest possible but peaceful manner and at the same time some solid preventive measures should immediately be put in place to avoid any such unfortunate incident occurring in future,” Maulana Tahir Ashrafi said.
He said that the PUC along with the Pakistan Interfaith League (PIL) and other relevant organizations intends to form a delegation which would meet the foreign envoys based in Islamabad as well as the UN Head of the Mission to condemn the unfortunate making and showing of the profane movie by the US national.
“At the same time we will brief them about the strong reaction it has stirred all over the world including Pakistan and how this act of one individual has flared the religious sentiments of Muslims and put the lives, properties and even performance of religious rites of minority communities all over Pakistan, the PUC Chairman said.
“We will try to make them understand the gravity of the matter and will urge them to approach their governments as well as the United Nations to take immediate and meaningful steps to appease the frayed emotions of Muslims all over the world as well as make necessary legislations in their respective countries as well as in UN to prevent occurrence of any such incident, not only against Islam but against any practiced religion all over the world,” Maulana Tahir Ashrafi said.