Quran burning plan highlights need to tackle hate speech: HRCP

Lahore, September 13: Expressing relief that the “outrageous plan” by a US pastor to burn copies of the holy Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has been averted, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called for renewed and firm condemnation of all forms of hate speech everywhere.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Commission said: “It is fortunate indeed that sanity has prevailed and the outrageous plan to burn copies of the holy Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has been averted. The feeling of outrage among the people of Pakistan regarding the plan is understandable. But the matter was one that had to be dealt with by the Government of the United States, and its efforts should be acknowledged.

Even though the plan has been scrapped, the row has highlighted the pervasiveness of religious intolerance and the need to tackle messages of hate. The US must recognise the urgency and sensitivity of the matter and do everything it can to stamp out all instances of hate speech, particularly those perpetuated in the name of belief, not because of apprehensions of a potential backlash or violence but simply because they are wrong. Each religion and its respective sacred books are entitled to respect. The agenda of those with a vested interest in stirring hostility and conflict must not be allowed to derail efforts for inter-religious harmony and promotion of tolerance. That is why it is more important than ever to ensure that all forms of hate speech are met with renewed, firm and unreserved condemnation.

HRCP also appeals for calm to those understandably offended by the plan in Pakistan and urges the Government of Pakistan to impress upon the people that anything that goes wrong anywhere in the world must not become a justification for violent demonstrations and destruction of property in Pakistan.”
Dr Mehdi Hasan


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