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... In several Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, for instance, no religious minority can even build their places of worship. And this when not only international conventions to which they are signatories, but even the religion they claim as their own, Islam, fully stands for minority rights. More than any other country Pakistan seems to be suffering from an epidemic of minority bashing. It is time the UN Human Rights Council reminded these countries to respect their own signatures on the UN conventions, if they cannot follow their own religion.

This is not only giving these Muslim-majority countries, but our religion, Islam itself a bad image, leading to fear of Islam in the minds of many non-Muslims around the world. I would like to bring to the notice of representatives from the world community that our religion, Islam, stands fully for protecting the rights of the practitioners of all religions.  Indeed, the Holy Quran, while giving Muslims permission for the first time to defend themselves with arms, 13 years after the advent of Islam, asked them to do so in order to protect religious freedom per se, religious freedom of Jews, Christians, Hindus and Muslims,  not just the religious freedom of Muslims.

The Quran said in Chapter 22, verse 40: “And had it not been that Allah checks one set of people with another, the monasteries and churches, the synagogues and the mosques, in which His praise is abundantly celebrated would have been utterly destroyed. Clearly this makes it imperative as a religious duty on the part of Muslims to protect by whatever means available to them the rights of religious groups to build and worship God in their churches, synagogues, monasteries, temples, mosques. In Saudi Arabia, Taliban-controlled areas in Pakistan and Boko Haram controlled zones in Nigeria, for instance, it is impossible for religious or sectarian minorities to even build their places of worship, not to speak of practising their religions freely. The verse from Quran quoted above, makes it imperative on Muslims, in my view, to struggle to the best of their ability and resources, to change this situation. At the very least we  should try and convince the authorities in these areas who claim to be Muslim to follow the Quran in letter and spirit and stop adding to the Islamophobia already prevailing in the world....