Church in Chains, April 29, 2021
Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has pledged to lead a campaign of Muslim-majority countries to “convince” Western countries to introduce laws to outlaw blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed.
He made the call in a televised address to the nation from the capital, Islamabad, on 19 April as his government continued to negotiate with the Islamist TLP political party, following days of violent protests. The TLP protests called for the French ambassador to be expelled for the perceived “blasphemy” by French President Emmanuel Macron in defending, on grounds of free speech, the re-publication in 2020 of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons controversially depicting the prophet Mohammed.
Four policemen were killed and over eight hundred people were injured in the violence between 12 April and 19 April. Property worth tens of millions of Pakistan Rupees was damaged. Several police officers were kidnapped, while TLP leader Saad Hussain Rizvi was arrested.
Prime Minister Khan said, “We need to explain why this hurts us, when in the name of freedom of speech they insult the honour of the Prophet… when fifty Muslim countries will unite and say this, and say that if something like this happens in any country, then we will launch a trade boycott on them and not buy their goods, that will have an effect. I assure you that the purpose of the TLP for which they’re bringing people out, that is my purpose as well and that of my government.”