Striking the right balance

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Qatar’s holding of the 2022 FIFA World Cup has created a commotion in the Western countries and brought to fore cultural and religious differences vitiating the peaceful atmosphere of the world. A portrayal of Qatar’s players in the newspaper caricature in France has also sparked uproar in the Arab world and other Islamic countries who have been exploiting the opportunity to promote Islamic values and traditions and advance cultural harmony among different nations.
Pakistan’s perspective and concerns about the growing problem of religious intolerance, discrimination, Islamophobia and violence worldwide have been well articulated by the country’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, who drew attention towards the state-driven hostility and phobia directed against Muslims and Islam.
This hostility has become all the more evident from the French caricatures on the FIFA host country and the growing set of restrictions on Islamic dress code in some European countries, which have been fanning flames of Islamophobia in the world.
As restrictions on Islamic clothes in some European countries, on top of them France, have created deeper and bigger chasms in the Islamic and Western cultures, Pakistan, since its inception, has always strived to promote inter-faith dialogue and achieve mutual understanding to strike the balance among various cultures for peaceful co-existence and a prosperous future for the humanity.
On the contrary, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in Morocco held its 9th forum to bridge the widening gaps among different cultures. The Pakistani minister stressed the importance of continued and robust inter-religious, inter-civilizational and inter-faith dialogue, which, she said would work as a “catalyst to promote peaceful co-existence, mutual understanding, and harmony”.
The core objective of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, which was created in 2005 in response to tensions between the Muslim world and the West in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks on the United States, was to advance mutual respect for all cultures, traditions and religious beliefs.
However, actions by Western countries directed against Muslims and the recent cartoon by the French newspaper sparked outrage on social media, with users calling out it as “blatant Islamophobia” and “racism”, which is feared to bode worse for the international relations in the coming years.
Social media users have been rightly denouncing the satirical newspaper for publishing the caricatures that depict Arab men as long-bearded, angry and carrying weapons at a time when the world nations have thronged the tiny Arab country for the most popular single sport event.
The FIFA World Cup affords the greatest opportunity to the world nations to come closer and forge a healthy alliance to avert any threat to the world peace. It is opportune time to achieve and strike the cultural balance and save the world from sliding into cultural antagonism.
True to its Islamic identity, Pakistan has been pursuing a robust role to promote Islamic values, remove misconceptions about Islam and strike the right cultural balance at the most turbulent times in the world’s history.