Muslim leader urges legal safeguards
The imprisonment of a British historian in Austria for denying the Holocaust has prompted a Muslim leader to call for Muslims to be given the same legal safeguards as Jews against offence.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, said: “We need the same protection from European law.”
Ihsanoglu, of Turkey, was referring to the OIC campaign to have European Union countries legislate to prevent newspapers from publishing artists’ impressions of the Prophet Muhammad. He was speaking in Pakistan on Tuesday.
He noted that right-wing historian David Irving had been sentenced to three years in prison by an Austrian court for challenging the historical record that 6 millions Jews had been killed by the Nazis during the second world war.
“We want to be assured that … there will be no double standards,” said Ihsanoglu, referring to the Austrian law that protects the feelings of Jews against those who would deny the extent of their persecution by the Nazis.
David Irving was sentenced for
He said he wanted European laws to similarly protect Muslims’ feelings.
“This notion of freedom of expression … should include our sensitive points … if they really respect the Muslim world,” he said.
Ihsanoglu met Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan’s prime minister, on Tuesday to discuss blasphemous cartoons of the prophet that caused outrage across the Muslim world.
Ihsanoglu suggested to the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, last week that the EU should take measures “that may guarantee that this crisis is not repeated in the future”.
“This notion of freedom of expression … should include our sensitive points … if they really respect the Muslim world”
“These proposals include European legislative measures against Islamophobia and adopting a code of ethics for the European media that would make any form of defamation of religions and mocking and criticising prophets an ethical offence in the European media,” Ihsanoglu said in a statement.
Aziz said Pakistan would send a parliamentary delegation, including opposition lawmakers from a radical religious alliance that had been protesting the cartoons, to the EU headquarters in Brussels to “explain the sentiments of Muslims in Pakistan”.
Aziz did not say when the delegation would go.
Ihsanoglu is in Islamabad for a three-day meeting of the OIC’s committee on science and technology.