Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday called for strict action against the websites fanning hatred to create a divide in humanity, also urging the Muslim world to present their case at international forums and improve understanding of Islam.
The prime minister, in an interview with the CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, also aired by the PTV, said the use of terms Islamic extremism and Islamic radical started after publication of Salman Rushdie’s book and then the 9/11.
The interview was aired as in London, Ontario, the funeral prayer of four members of Pakistani family, killed in run over by a pickup truck on last Sunday evening, was held.
The Canadian police say the family was targeted because they were Muslim. The family moved to Canada from Pakistan in 2007.
The prime minister said the use of term “Islamic radicals” shows as if there was something wrong with the religion which made them radical. Contrarily, terrorism has no religion as extremists were found in every society, he added.
He said the Muslims living in western countries, not the Muslim states, suffered due to Islamophobia and called for closing the gap by improving the understanding.
“Everyone is shocked in [Pakistan], because we saw the family picture, and so a family being targeted like that has had a deep impact in Pakistan,” Prime Minister Khan said.
The prime minister said the recent pattern of domestic terror in Western countries demanded a heightened focus on online radicalization.
After the tragic incident, the prime minister took to his twitter handle to express his feelings. “Saddened to learn of the killing of a Muslim Pakistani-origin Canadian family in London, Ontario.”
He said the condemnable act of terrorism revealed the growing Islamophobia in Western countries. “Islamophobia needs to be countered holistically by the international community,” he remarked.
The prime minister told the interviewer that he had raised the issue with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau, describing him as a leader who understood the importance of fighting online hate and Islamophobia.
He urged other leaders to make such commitment. “The world leaders, whenever they decide upon taking action, this will be dealt with,” he opined.
Imran Khan reiterated that there was not enough motivation and that some international leaders, or leaders in the Western countries, actually did not understand this phenomenon.
He further said that he “mostly agrees” with Trudeau and his position on extremism, but also expressed concern with some Canadian laws that he believed were contributing to Islamophobia.
He described Quebec’s Bill 21 — which banned public servants, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols at work — as a form of “secular extremism” that led to intolerance against Muslims.
“You want humans to basically be free to express the way they want to be, as long as it doesn’t cause pain and hurt to other human beings,” he emphasized.
He asked as why it became a big issue when someone wears Hijab or grows beard in west. “People objecting to Hijab and beard is quite bizarre for me. In liberal democracies, why this is an issue,” he questioned.
Yumna Afzaal, 15, Madiha Salman, 44, Talat Afzaal, 74, and Salman Afzaal 46 were out for an evening walk when they were run over by 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman who police said was motivated by anti-Muslim hate. He had participated in online activity that promoted extremism or violence.
The perpetrators of other recent mass killings — such as the 2017 gun attack at a Quebec City mosque and the 2018 Yonge Street van attack in Toronto — took part in online activities that are believed by investigators to have contributed to their radicalization.
Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau pledged to crack down on online hate speech when he introduced a new digital charter in 2019, though critics say Ottawa had been slow to implement changes that could stop online radicalization.