Pakistanis condemn efforts to “denigrate Islam”

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s upper house of parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday condemning what it called efforts to denigrate Islam and promote hatred.

The Senate was referring to cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, first published in Danish newspapers in 2005, and a yet to be screened film in which a right-wing populist Dutch lawmaker plans to lay out his view of the Koran.

“All these efforts seem to be part of a campaign aimed at denigrating Islam, insulting the Islamic role model and injuring feelings of Muslims the world over,” the Senate said in its resolution.

“These outrageous attacks may also be part of a game plan to provoke some persons into a violent reaction,” it said.

The cartoons sparked violent protests across the Muslim world in 2006 in which at least 50 people were killed.

This month, Danish newspapers reprinted one of the cartoons, setting off small protests in several Muslim countries, including Pakistan, where two protests were held on Tuesday.

“Such malicious acts cannot be accepted in the name of freedom of expression. While freedom of expression is sacrosanct, it cannot be allowed to become freedom of insult, slander, libel, abuse and provocation,” the Senate said.

“It is the height of hypocrisy that some of the countries of Europe, which have made the denial of the Holocaust a crime punishable with imprisonment, have given free license to fanatics to demonize Islam and promote hatred and conflict among religious communities,” it said.

This month, Iran urged the Netherlands to prevent the screening of the film by Geert Wilders — a right-wing politician whose anti-Islam comments have led to death threats.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende last month appealed for restraint over the film.

Balkenende said it was unclear what Wilders would say in the film, which is expected to be aired in coming months, but there were concerns in the Netherlands and abroad.

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