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OIC to ‘send’ strong condemnation

Desecration of the Holy Quran in Florida

From Our Correspondent


NEW YORK – Reposing complete confidence in Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, the OIC decided that the Ambassador of Pakistan along with Ambassadors of Tajiskistan (OIC chair), Morocco (OIC Coordinator for Human Rights), Iran and Egypt would meet with the UN Secretary General to convey OIC’s strong condemnation and ask him to take the lead towards promoting inter-faith harmony.

It was decided in OIC ambassadorial meeting which convened here the other day to discuss the recent desecration of the Holy Quran in Florida last week.

The meeting approved the proposals of Ambassador Haroon and his Iranian counterpart that OIC Chair and Observer Mission will draft a strong condemnatory letter on behalf of OIC with the assistance of Pakistan and Morocco to be sent to the UN Secretary General, President UN General Assembly, High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) with the request to circulate it as an official document.

The meeting also decided that Ambassador Haroon would be the focal person to brief the media on the subject.

Reiterating the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari's clear expression of sentiments of the people and extreme provocation and seriousness of the issue, and his call to the United Nations to take immediate action on the subject, Ambassador Haroon the first Speaker from the member states voiced strong condemnation of this sacrilegious act.

He assured that Pakistan would continue playing its active and constructive role in promoting inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence.

On March 22, Ambassador Haroon had written a letter to the UN Secretary General, where he drawn UN attention towards this despicable act of desecration of the Holy Quran by Wayne Sapp and Terry Jones in Florida.

He voiced Pakistan's profound regret and deep concern at the increasing acts of "Islamophobia and growing trend of intolerance and hatred towards Muslims as well as insults to their religious symbols and personalities".

The letter further said, "While this reprehensible act is the work of extremists and is evidently designed to provoke dissent and discord among communities and peoples across the world, such sacrilegious acts also go against the very concept of inter-faith harmony and threaten the multicultural fabric of the societies and the brotherhood of the United Nations".

The Ambassador urged the United Nations to play its important role in ensuring peace and harmony among peoples of the world. He said Pakistan has full confidence in the UN's leadership and hoped that it would take all steps to fight such tendencies and promote intercultural and inter-faith harmony that is basic to coexistence of mankind.

Recalling Pakistan’s initiative on Interfaith Dialogue and participation in the Alliance of Civilization, Ambassador Haroon stated that Pakistan has always stood for promoting peace and harmony among people and nations of the world.

He regretted that while OIC has always supported peace initiatives in all regions of the world including tolerant and constructive engagement during last year’s Islamophobic incidents i.e. threats to burn the Quran and opposition to construction of Islamic Center in New York, attacks on Islam, its symbols and holy personalities continue unabated.

The Ambassador proposed that the OIC group should write a letter to the UN Secretary General (UNSG) asking him to issue a strong condemnatory statement and take concrete action to protect multiculturalism and promote peace and harmony in the world.

Following Ambassdor’s Haroon statement, all OIC Ambassadors, who took the floor, seconded the views expressed by Ambassador of Pakistan and asked the OIC Chair to immediately take action on the specific steps proposed by him.

Ambassador of Tajikistan (OIC Chairman) and the Permanent Observer of the OIC, in New York, briefed the group about the event and subsequent actions taken by the concerned at different levels including: expression of deep disappointment on the act by the OIC Secretary General and his call for exercising restraint to the Muslim world; strong condemnation by the OIC Group in Geneva in its statement to the Human Rights Council and request to the High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) to issue a condemnatory statement on the subject; and statement of condemnation issued by Pakistan, Iran and the United States.

The Permanent Observer of the OIC added that it was an act of ignorance to gain cheap popularity and appreciated the role played by the Muslims in the United States to downplay this issue.

He also briefed the meeting that due to constructive engagement by the OIC Group in Geneva, the Human Rights Council has adopted by consensus the OIC resolution on “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence, and Violence against Persons based on Religion or Belief”. He particularly appreciated the role of Pakistan. Terry Jones, the controversial American pastor, oversaw the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran at his small Florida church after the Islamic revered book was put on trial, found guilty and condemned for execution, according to media reports.

Last fall, Jones who heads a church of 50 followers, stoked international alarm with his claim he would light a bonfire with the holy Quran on the anniversary of September 11.

He gave up the move after the Obama administration intervened. The report said about 30 people were present at a mock trial of the Holy Quran, while a real copy sat soaking in kerosene until another pastor, Jones' colleague Wayne Sapp, lit the flames with a barbecue lighter.

Embassy conveys Pak sentiments

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has conveyed the concerns of its people to Washington regarding desecration of the Holy Quran by US fanatics Wayne Swapp and Terry Jones.

The Pakistani Embassy, in a letter addressed to the US officials and church leaders, has passed on the Pakistani nation’s feelings of shock and anguish at the desecration of the Holy Quran under supervision of the profane pastor.

The Pakistani Embassy in Washington stressed that all governments have a responsibility to prevent such reprehensible and provocative acts.

The desecration goes against efforts for inter-faith harmony and peace in the world, which is beset with serious challenges in terms of intolerance, instability and insecurity.

According to an officials of Pakistan’s Embassy in US, the letter has been addressed to Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour, Director Pakistan Affairs at the Department of State, and religious leaders including Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Leonard A Leo, Chair, US Commission on Intl’ Religious Freedom, Washington and Rev Dr Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary, National Council of Churches, New York.

The officials said the Embassy also sent a letter to pastor Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Church in Florida, saying the despicable act of burning a copy of the Holy Quran under his supervision has deeply hurt feelings of Muslims around the world. - Agencies

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