Western governments should treat people who insult the Prophet Mohammed the same as those who deny the Holocaust, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Saturday.
Speaking after a week of violent protests in Pakistan by a radical Islamist party outraged by French government support for magazines publishing cartoons of Mohammed, Khan said insulting the prophet hurt Muslims around the world.
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“We Muslims have the greatest love & respect for our Prophet,” he tweeted. “We cannot tolerate any such disrespect & abuse.”
The Pakistani Prime Minister also asked the ‘extremists abroad’ to issue an apology to 1.3 billion Muslims.
“Those in the West, incl extreme right politicians, who deliberately indulge in such abuse & hate under guise of freedom of speech clearly lack moral sense & courage to apologise to the 1.3 bn Muslims for causing this hurt. We demand an apology from these extremists,” his tweet read.
The group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) was banned on Thursday after days of violent protests during which four policemen were killed.
The radical party has orchestrated a months-long campaign for the expulsion of the French ambassador to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of the cartoons’ publication.
The French embassy in Islamabad on Thursday recommended its nationals leave Pakistan, a call that appears to have gone largely unheeded.
“I… call on Western govts who have outlawed any negative comment on the holocaust to use the same standards to penalize those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims by abusing our Prophet,” Khan tweeted.
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Denying the Holocaust is illegal in several European countries — including Germany and France — and offenders can be jailed.
Khan suggested the government had not banned the TLP because it disagreed with TLP’s motivation, but rather its methods.
“Let me make clear to people here & abroad: Our govt only took action against TLP under our anti-terrorist law when they challenged the writ of the state and used street violence & attacking the public & law enforcers,” he said.
“No one can be above the law and the Constitution.”