The Hague, 26 September 2023 (TDI): Pakistan vehemently condemned the recent desecration of the Holy Quran in Hague, the Netherlands, in front of various OIC member country Embassies, including Pakistan’s Embassy.

This highly offensive and provocative act, which is viewed as a deliberate expression of Islamophobia, has deeply wounded the sentiments of Muslims worldwide.

It is crucial to stress that such actions should not be justified under the pretext of freedom of expression, opinion, or protest.

Pakistan firmly believes in the responsible exercise of freedom of expression and urges national governments to take proactive measures to prevent acts that propagate religious hatred or Islamophobia.

In this context, it is essential for the international community to unite against Islamophobia and actively promote interfaith harmony, in line with the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 2022 resolution.

The UNGA 2022 resolution designated March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

Pakistan has communicated its concerns to Dutch authorities and called on them to consider not only the feelings of the Pakistani populace but also those of Muslims worldwide.

The Dutch government must take proactive steps to prevent such hateful and Islamophobic incidents, recognizing their global impact and the importance of addressing these issues collectively.

Reportedly, Dutch far-right activist Edwin Wagensveld, leading the Dutch branch of the far-right group Pegida, was responsible for desecrating the Holy Quran in front of the Turkish, Pakistani, and Indonesian Embassies in The Hague.

This act has been widely condemned as an affront to Islam and Muslims. Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) strongly condemns this deliberate and Islamophobic act, stressing that it has deeply wounded the sentiments of Muslims worldwide.

The FO underscored that such actions cannot be justified under the guise of freedom of expression, opinion, or protest.

Pakistan has also conveyed its concerns to Dutch authorities, urging them to be sensitive not only to the feelings of Pakistanis but also to the broader Muslim community.

Pakistan emphasized the need for proactive measures to prevent such “hateful and Islamophobic acts” and emphasized that freedom of expression must come with responsibilities.

In a separate statement, Saudi Arabia also condemned the incident, labeling it as reprehensible and recurring. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed strong disapproval, asserting that such acts cannot be justified under any circumstances.

These actions are seen as promoting hatred, exclusion, and racism, running counter to international efforts to promote values of tolerance, moderation, and the rejection of extremism.

Meanwhile, Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General, Jassim Mohammed Al-Budaiwi calls for “urgent and effective international steps to confront these aggressive and provocative actions against Muslims.”

The OIC has also criticized the “provocative act” in a recent statement and called on Dutch authorities to take necessary measures against such provocative acts and prevent their recurrence.

In recent times, similar incidents of the Holy Quran’s desecration have occurred in other European countries. In late July, two individuals set fire to a copy of the Quran in front of the Swedish parliament & similar incidents have taken place in Denmark this year.

These demonstrations have ignited anger, condemnation, and occasionally unrest in several Muslim countries. During their addresses to the UNGA last week, Muslim leaders chastised the West for instances of Quran burnings.