Pakistan celebrate the "Day of Love for the Prophet Muhammad"(Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wa Sallam) during which mass anti-American protests are being planned. The day has been officially declared a day off in the country.
The federal government on Wednesday seemed to have decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, when it decided to observe Friday as Yaum-e-Ishaq-e-Rasool, and observing it as a national holiday, in honour of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This decision made the Pakistani government the first to officially join in the protests that are rocking the Muslim world against a derogatory anti-Islam film made in the USA. The public holiday coincides with the Friday call by various political and religious parties for protests against the blasphemy. It was also decided to hold an Ishq-e-Rasool Conference to be addressed by the Prime Minister, while the cabinet called for all protests to be peaceful. It also decided that President Asif Zardari would raise the issue on his upcoming visit to attend the UN General Assembly. It must not be forgotten that while the protests have claimed the life of the US Ambassador to Libya, no US diplomat has been harmed in Pakistan, though Pakistan too is one of the Muslim countries where US missions have been under constant attack. On Wednesday, a procession of lawyers broke into the Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad, but failed to break into the US Embassy there, instead handing over a resolution about the film. On Thursday, despite the decision to hold the Yaum-e-Ishaq-e-Rasool, the students of Rawalpindi tried to reach the US Embassy. The Islamabad police used tear gas and baton charged to stop them, while several police officials sustained serious injuries.Not just resented by a narrow class of religious Muslims, but by entire nations of them, the protests demonstrate the severely hurt feelings of the Muslim world at the targeted hatred being spread about their faith. The irresponsible publication of cartoons depicting the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wa Sallam) in a magazine in France, is further incitement at provocation in the face of the turmoil that has seized Muslim countries wounded by the hitherto unknown film, “The Innocence of Muslims”.It will be essential for protestors today to demonstrate peacefully and solemnly, in order to fend off criticism of the Muslim world as being unable to indulge in meaningful debate and instead resorting to violence. In registering our protest, we must be mindful of the law and the fact that reason must not cede to collective emotion when the question of the security of life and limb is at stake. Protests at diplomatic missions are valid, but the safety of these missions and the diplomats associated with them is also the responsibility of the host nation and it is a responsibility that Pakistan must set an example in upholding. Today is a day of displaying love and respect for the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wa Sallam), an exemplary human being, whose memory and traditions are best protected by Muslims themselves and by their actions bringing no disrepute on the religion of peace. We, as Muslims, are not taught to answer hate with hate; nor should we give anyone reason to believe otherwise. Meanwhile, the Western world must not equate reasoned disagreement and justifiable offence taken over deliberately provoked religious hatred as incompatible with the modern world, where surely, we all look to the pursuit of a mutually respectful and respected existence.
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