Malaysian official says Islamophobia should be criminal offence

Attendees return signs after a rally to highlight Islamophobia, sponsored by the Muslim Association of Canada, including the June 6 in London, Ontario attack which killed a Muslim family in what police describe as a hate-motivated crime, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada June 18, 2021.— Reuters 

A senior Malaysian official said on Friday that Islamophobia must be recognised as a crime and demanded that Muslim nations respond strongly to cases involving the desecration of the Holy Quran. 

“Anything that is Islamophobic can actually be regarded as something which is criminal in nature. So, much like anti-Semitism is a criminal offence in many other countries,” Abdul Razak Ahmad, a special representative of Malaysia’s foreign minister, told Anadolu in an interview.

Ahmad complimented Turkey for its firm response to a recent wave of Quran desecrations in Europe that incited the anger of Muslims all over the world. He called for making Islamophobia a criminal charge, especially in Muslim countries.

Ahmad cited one such attempt in Norway, where officials revoked a previous permit for a Quran burning after receiving a warning from Ankara, saying the incident proved the value of Turkish diplomacy.

It demonstrates the effectiveness of Turkish soft power, he said. He added that we should confront these people, interact with them, and inform them that we are upset and that their behaviour is improper and does not reflect an egalitarian society.

“And they should stop.”

According to Ahmad, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and a select few other countries have demonstrated leadership in the fight against Islamophobia.

His main worry with regard to Islamophobia, he said, was the way that the religion has been misunderstood and how it has given rise to hatred among those who have only a passing familiarity with it. He said that it was a constrained interpretation of Islam as a whole.

He emphasised the significance of cooperation between Malaysia and Turkey in tackling Islamophobia, which he described as a global problem affecting the Muslim community, reported the outlet.

He emphasised that the West must be practical. “Freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, and freedom of speech must never come at the expense of compromising other people’s faith, coexistence, or their right to practise their religion.”

He also stressed the necessity for Islamic nations to show more responsiveness to the problem.

“They can burn another 1,000 or 1 million Qurans but you can never eliminate the teaching of Islam from the hearts and minds of the Muslims.”

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