An Interfaith Harmony Week (February 03 to February 09) is being celebrated under the banner of United Nations at a time when 1.5 billion Muslims are incensed over the publication of blasphemous caricatures in a French magazine and taking out rallies to protest these sacrilegious sketches. No Muslim has condoned or supported the attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo and killing of the magazine’s staff there because Islam is against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The taking of law into one’s hands paves the way for terrorism and extremism. However, at the same time no constitution or law of any country allows blasphemy and ridiculing of holy personages of any religion in the name of freedom of expression nor is this blasphemous conduct sanctioned by the UN and European Union Charter.
I have recently written a letter to the world leaders including the UN Secretary General, the Presidents of the United States and France and the Prime Minister of the UK in this regard impressing upon them the need and inevitability of redefining freedom of expression. If no immediate attention was paid to resolution of this most sensitive moral, legal, religious and constitutional issue, there is a fear that efforts being made for peace in the world will not be bear to bear fruit and the dream of uprooting terrorism and extremism will remain a pipedream.
The need for interfaith dialogue and harmony cannot be greater and more acute than it is today. The international community will have to take the initiative to restructure their mutual relations on the sure foundations of respect and supreme humanitarian values with utmost honest and sincerity and respect for religions and holy personages associated with them should be a central plan in bilateral and multilateral relations. The Islamic world has not only accepted the importance of interfaith dialogue but also adopted it as an important tool for promotion of brotherhood and establishment of durable peace. The Islamic faith, being a religion of peace, is characterized by the teachings of respect of humanity and its promotion without any discrimination. Islamic history is replete with countless examples where fundamental rights of people of every segment and faith were protected over and above any discrimination of caste, colour, creed, race, language and culture. It is about time that dialogue is initiated to ward off any possibility of clash of civilizations aimed at making this world hub of peace, love and justice and open-ended right to freedom of expression is regulated under the accepted international values and laws.