At a time when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has branded himself as the global defender of Islam in denouncing Western Islamophobia in light of French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent comments, analysts have questioned why the former Pakistan cricket captain continues to maintain silence over a similar instance occurring in China.
It all began on October 16, when a 47-year-old French schoolteacher Samuel Paty was beheaded at the hands of an 18-year-old Chechen refugee in a suburb of Paris after he showed caricatures of Prophet Mohammed to his students, an incident which was labeled as a terrorist attack by President Macron.
Macron, who stressed that France would “not give up cartoons, drawings, even if others back down”, said – “We will continue… We will defend the freedom that you taught so well and we will bring secularism.” He said the teacher’s beheading was an attack on “the republic and its values”.
His remarks have led to an uproar in the Muslim world, with France being criticized by a host of Muslim countries which included Turkey as well as Pakistan, whose leader Imran Khan said – “This is a time when President Macron could have put a healing touch and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarization and marginalization that inevitably leads to radicalization,”
“Sadly, President Macron has chosen to deliberately provoke Muslims, including his own citizens, and encouraged the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam and the Holy Prophet [Muhammad].”
Khan, who has already sought a ban on Islamophobic content on Facebook, similar to the ban Facebook has for content on the Holocaust, soon got a reply to his statement from Macron.
“We do not accept hate speech and defend reasonable debate. We will always be on the side of human dignity and universal values,” said Macron.
However, while Khan has been openly vocal in calling out France’s decision to allow the “publication of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam and our Holy Prophet”, experts have labeled him a hypocrite for keeping mum over a similar incident that involved Pakistan’s “Iron Brother” China in addition to Beijing’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims.
Recently, in an embarrassing incident that shocked even Chinese netizens, a Beijing-based state-run television broadcasted a controversial image of Prophet Muhammad, reported the Indian Economic Times.
Context: an ambassador from an Arab nation gifts a portrait of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to the emperor during the Tang Dynasty.
— Arslan Hidayat.ئارسلان ھىدايەت (@arslan_hidayat) October 27, 2020
An Uyghur Activist, Arslan Hidayat, tweeted the video belonging to TV channel China Central TV (CCTV), which depicted a “scene of an Arab ambassador visiting China through the rule of Tang dynasty.
The Arab ambassador could be seen in that video presenting a portray of the Prophet Muhammad to the Chinese language emperor”.
However, unlike the revolt against France, Pakistan witnessed no protests in regard to this or against China’s handling of Muslim minorities.
Adeel Khan, a London-based Pakistani researcher, and anthropologist, while referring to Beijing’s alleged persecution of the Uyghur Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, said – “Imran Khan is rightly concerned about Muslims living in France. But what about the Uighurs in China? He should also show sympathy to them,”
“Also, Khan’s timing was terrible. Last month, a Pakistani migrant attacked two people outside the former Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. It was a foreign policy disaster for his government,” he added.
The autonomous territory of Xinjiang, which has been under the control of China since its annexation in 1949, is home to 11 Muslim minority Uighurs, with many complaining of being detained, interrogated, and beaten up because of their religion.
In the last three years, at least a million Uighurs within Xinjiang have been interned in over 85 camps, which are referred to by the Chinese government as “Re-education Centres” for the Muslim minorities.
While a host of worldly nations along with human rights groups have criticized China’s clampdown on ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang, China is of the opinion that the detention camps are necessary for improving security.
With Khan already writing a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, a political analyst, Mehdi Hasan has asked whether the Pakistani PM will pen down a similar letter to China.
“All of the (undeniable) Islamophobia in the West doesn’t come even close to what China is doing to Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province. China is a close ally of yours, Mr. Prime Minister, so maybe write them a letter instead/as well?” said Hasan.
Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, while writing for Israel’s longest-running newspaper, Haaretz, highlighted how Pakistan’s stance on France comes at a time when it has its problems to deal with.
“Amidst all the talk of Islamophobia, Pakistan remains the only country in the world that actually criminalizes the recitation of Quran, and the Islamic call to prayer, when they deny the Ahmadiyya sect the right to self-identify as Muslims,”
And despite the egregious invocation of the Holocaust and its suffering, the Khan-led Pakistan, like other Muslim-majority states, will never condemn what is the closest approximation today to the Nazis’ concentration camps – the “re-education camps” established by China in which one million Uighur Muslims are currently detained. Indeed, Khan vocally defends those concentration camps as a non-issue.”