KARACHI, Pakistan 

The Pakistani prime minister on Wednesday urged Muslim countries to adopt a “collective” strategy to contain the rising tide of Islamophobia in the world.

In an open letter to Muslim heads of states, Imran Khan said: “Time has come for the Muslim world to take this message with clarity and unity to rest of the world, especially the Western world, so an end is put to Islamophobia, and attacks on Islam, and our Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him).

“Today, we are confronting a growing concern and restlessness amongst our Ummah as they see a rising tide of Islamophobia, and attacks through ridicule, and mockery on our beloved Prophet (PBUH) in the Western world, especially Europe,” he said about the anti-islamic rhetoric, and publication of blasphemous caricatures in France.

He termed provocative remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron, and desecration of Holy Quran in different European countries a reflection of increasing Islamophobia in European countries, where a sizable Muslim population resides.

The backlash against Macron’s statements has spread in the Muslim world, with international condemnations, calls to boycott French products, protests, as well as attacks on French websites.

Earlier this month, Macron accused French Muslims of “separatism,” and described Islam as a “a religion in crisis.”

Tensions further escalated with the Oct. 16 murder of a French teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils. Macron paid tribute to him, and said France would “not give up our cartoons.”

Insulting cartoons by Charlie Hebdo, a French weekly magazine, were also projected on buildings in a few cities.

“Overt and covert discrimination is widespread against Muslims living in these countries,” the Pakistani premier said, adding: “I believe, the leadership in these countries, often acts out of lack of understanding of intrinsic deep passion, love and devotion Muslims all over the world have for their Prophet (PBUH), and their divine book of the Holy Quran.”

This has set in motion a “dangerous cycle” of actions and reactions, the prime minister said.

“Hurtful actions result in reactions from Muslims… which results in further discriminatory actions by the governments against Muslim populations in their states, resulting in marginalization of Muslims and creation of space for radical far-right groups to exploit the situation.”

Marginalization, he argued, leads to radicalization, and this “vicious cycle” continues to create increasing space for extremists on all sides.

“In this environment, it is incumbent on us as leaders of the Muslim world to collectively take the lead in breaking this cycle of hate, and extremism, which nurtures violence, and even death,” Khan wrote. “We, as leaders of Muslim polities, must take the initiative to call for an end to this cycle of hate and violence.”

He said that as Holocaust denial has been criminalized in many European states, “blasphemy against any prophet of Islam, Christianity or Judaism is unacceptable in our faith.”

The prime minister warned that the world “cannot continue on this hate spiral” as it would only benefit the extremists on all sides, and result in “polarized societies,” and “violence.”

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