Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan recently remarked that, while the life of Islam’s Muhammad “is part of history,” there is no “mention” of Jesus in human history, the Times of Israel (TOI) reported on Friday.
“There were prophets of Allah other [than Muhammad], but there is no mention of them in human history. There is negligible mention of them. Moses is mentioned, but there is no mention of Jesus in history,” Khan proclaimed, TOI revealed, citing a translation posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“But the entire life of Muhammad, who was Allah’s last prophet, is part of history,” the Pakistan leader added.
The Muslim premier’s comments came during an event marking Muhammad’s birthday on November 20, when Khan declared that Islamabad would spearhead an international campaign against the defamation of Islam and make using freedom of speech as a pretext to commit blasphemy a crime.
Nearly a year earlier, the U.S. State Department placed Pakistan on a special watch list for “severe violations of religious freedom.”
The campaign “would prevent people using freedom of speech as a cover for hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims around the world. Pakistan will spearhead the signing of this convention and make using freedom of speech to commit blasphemy a crime,” Khan said.
During his speech at the convention, Khan expressed anger over the publication of cartoons and other satirical portraying Muhammad in the West, arguing that the outrage that tends to ensue soon after the images are published are used to tarnish Islam.
Every few years, in some Western country, our dear Prophet is blasphemed against and dishonored. What is the consequence of this? Muslims become angry. We take to the streets in protest, [protesters] break things in our country … It enables the enemies of Muslims to tell people in the West: ‘See, Islam is a big religion that spreads violence.’ They get an opportunity to spread propaganda against Islam.
The PM claimed that the European Union has admitted that no one can use freedom of expression as a pretext for blasphemy.
[Khan] credited the intervention of his foreign minister with the cancellation earlier this year of a Mohammad cartoon competition in the Netherlands planned by a far-right politician. He also said Pakistan’s lobbying on the issue to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations was leading to less tolerance for alleged blasphemy in the West.
The PM urged countries across to world to adopt an “International Convention on Preventing the Defamation of Religions,” which the PM argued ensure that “freedom of speech cannot be used as a pretext to hurt the world’s 1.25 billion Muslims.”
Also this month, the PM said that his administration wishes to present an image of peaceful Islam before the world.
His speech came amid unrest in Pakistan in the wake of the Supreme Court’s acquittal in late October of Christian mother Asia Bibi, who authorities had sentenced to death for blasphemy.
According to independent and U.S. government assessments, Pakistan’s controversial laws against blasphemy, which Khan has pledged to defend, are primarily used to target Christians and other religious minorities.
The anti-blasphemy measures carry a punishment of life in prison or death, depending on the charge.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered Bibi’s release on October 31 after she served about eight years in prison, but Islamabad has agreed to prevent Bibi from leaving the country while the top court reviews petitions filed against the acquittal verdict.
The Khan administration has also agreed not to block a petition to add Bibi to a no-fly list made by the anti-blasphemy Islamist Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party that orchestrated the riots that erupted after the court cleared Bibi.
The agreements are part of a deal to stop the protest struck between the Khan administration and TLP.
Despite defending the blasphemy laws when campaigning this summer, Khan has repeatedly voiced his support for the Supreme Court’s acquittal verdict under pressure from the international community.