Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that to bridge the widening gulf between Islamic states and the West, his prime goal is to relay a strong message through Muslim world that any insult to Holy Prophet (PBUH) and linking Islam with terrorism is unacceptable.

“The western societies are unaware about the love and reverence we have for Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him). It is our responsibility to make them understand to end Islamophobia,” he said in an interaction with Islamabad-based ambassadors of the member countries of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), telecast on state television on Tuesday.

“We need to tell them that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) lives in our hearts and hence we love and respect him in a way that under the garb of freedom of expression, any insult or mockery will not be allowed,” he said.

The prime minister recalled that on assuming charge of his office, he had decided to remove the misunderstandings of West about “radical” approach of Islam as propagated by western media and analysts.

“Muslims could be radical or moderate, but the term ‘radical Islam’ must not be used in any way,” he said, adding that the negative mindset was leading to rise of Islamophobia.

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He mentioned that any mockery of Holy Prophet (PBUH), either through caricatures or statement, was taken in Islamic countries as a “deliberate attempt to abuse the religion”.

He pointed that Islamic countries did not make effective joint efforts in the past to counter the growing trend of Islamophobia.

He said Pakistan’s initiatives at the international level for creation of awareness about Islamophobia were aimed at building mutual understanding and promoting inter-faith harmony.

Noting that Islamophobic acts fanned inter-religious hatred and disharmony among civilizations, the prime minister called for addressing the underlying reasons for the rise in such incidents worldwide.

“Falsely equating Islam with radicalism and terrorism was leading to the marginalization and stigmatization of Muslims,” he said.

He underscored the imperative of Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) collective efforts to project the true image of Islam and its message of peace and tolerance.

Recalling the two letters addressed by him to the leaders of the Islamic world last year, the prime minister briefed the envoys on Pakistan’s efforts at the international level to create awareness about Islamophobia and the need to collectively address the phenomenon.

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The prime minister emphasized that the vilification of Islamic precepts and religious personalities, wrongly justified under the garb of the right to freedom of expression or opinion, hurt the sentiments of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.

The prime minister urged the OIC to work together for making the international community understand the deep-rooted love and reverence of all Muslims for the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and the Holy Quran.

He also underlined the need for instituting legal safeguards aimed at protecting the sensitivities of all religious groups.

The prime minister also reaffirmed that Pakistan remained committed to dialogue and cooperation with all members of the international community for promoting universal values of tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful co-existence among all nations and peoples.

The ambassadors on the occasion lauded the initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan for highlighting the issue of blasphemy an Islamophobia at international forums. They expressed committed to convey the message to their governments for further action in this regard.