Imran Khan, former cricketer and current Prime Minister of Pakistan, addressed a conference of religious scholars in which he made a series of antisemitic assertions.
Speaking in his native Urdu, PM Khan lamented the lack of reverence extended to Prophet Mohammad in the West and that Muslim leaders had failed to do anything meaningful to alter this reality. This, he claims, has led to a situation where Muslims are subjected to humiliation in the name of free speech whilst there are special laws for Jews designed to bypass free speech in order to protect their feelings. To bolster his case he makes the following comments:
“nobody can speak against Jews without being accused of antisemitism (10.23)…nobody can discuss the Holocaust….or even criticise Israel…if you do you will be labelled an anti-Semite or subjected to some punishment… so you see there really is no freedom of speech in the West (10.48)….”
He claims that freedom of speech is just a smokescreen for the West refuses to accept that insults to Prophet Mohammad are just as painful for Muslims as the denial of the Holocaust is for Jews. Gross distortion does not even begin to describe the victim narrative which permeates his speech. Would PM Khan have us believe that the BBC or The Guardian never criticise Israel? There is plenty of criticism of Israel in the mainstream media.
Moreover, nobody is denied the freedom to discuss the Holocaust anywhere in the West. Of course it is not a crime to discuss the Holocaust, but there are people with sinister motives who seek to deny that the Holocaust happened or who attempt to distort the number of victims of the Holocaust, even when there is ample historical evidence to the contrary. For example, Ernest Zundel and David Irving both of whom have made a career out of Holocaust denial, harbour sympathies for Nazism. Laws were enacted to criminalise Holocaust denial in Germany, France and Austria because Nazism was most active in these nations. They are designed to act as a safeguard to prevent the rise of Nazism in Europe again, by nipping it in the bud at it its earliest. Other European nations like Poland and Romania also criminalise the glorifying of Nazi insignia. Therefore, to say Holocaust Denial Laws were enacted simply to protect the feelings of Jews distorts the facts. Not least, because those who oppose these laws on the grounds that they inhibit free speech are able to exercise their right to voice dissent.
Furthermore, PM Imran Khan’s claim that these laws are there simply to pander to Jews ignores the other victims of the Nazis, which include, amongst others, gypsies and Slavs. Long before the murder of Jews had begun, the Nazis had instituted a program of Euthanasia in hospitals for the perceived undesirables of the German nation; the disabled and infirm. PM Khan’s implication that only Jews have a vested interest in preventing the rise of Nazism, is flawed.
The analogy itself is problematic. PM Khan is arguing that just as Jews compelled Western nations to criminalise Holocaust denial there is no reason why Muslims should not compel the West to accommodate their sentiments and criminalise insults to Prophet Mohammad. The logic is absurd. It is like comparing apples to oranges. A more appropriate analogy would be to compare Holocaust denial to the denial of another genocide, such as one that occurred in Bosnia or the current ongoing one in China. As it stands, PM Khan has shown little interest in the genocide of Uighurs because he is too busy prostituting himself to China, which only serves to highlight the moral bankruptcy as well as the antisemitism underpinning his reasoning.
It should then come as no surprise that PM Khan does not mention what, if any, special laws the West enacted to criminalise insults to the Jewish religion. Should not this be the logical approach for someone seeking to criminalise insults to Prophet Mohammad? It is not difficult to discern why he does not go down this route; most western nations have abolished blasphemy laws. Christianity, the dominant faith, is freely mocked and Jesus is regularly lampooned in the media. Richard Dawkins, who is probably the world’s most famous atheist, was attacked for the antisemitic content in his best-selling book “The God Delusion. ” A former Chief Rabbi questioned Dawkins why he singled out Jews:
…Lord Sacks, who represents the largest stream of Orthodox Judaism in the UK, had pinpointed a passage in the book which compares God as portrayed in Jewish scriptures and the Old Testament as a cartoonish villain, a “vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser”, who is “jealous”, “homophobic and racist”, “petty”, “pestilential”, a “megalomaniac” and a “bully”…
In spite of these misgivings, the former Chief Rabbi maintained friendly relations with Dawkins. The book, which was offensive to Christians as well as to Jews, did not serve as a catalyst for calls for blasphemy laws. The majority of Christians in Britain say they would not be offended by jokes about Jesus even if they were intended to be insulting. The situation is no different across Europe. For all practical purposes, this then is the dilemma confronting PM Khan. He appears to believe that his only recourse is to attempt to sneak blasphemy laws in by other means such as by feigning victimhood.
By adopting this approach, PM Khan is being intellectually dishonest. For if he were honest, he would approach Western nations and ask them to consider criminalising insults to Prophet Mohammed. He could address the people directly, if he feels so strongly about it. Why does he not do so? There is no need to deploy devious underhanded techniques if you believe your cause is just.
PM Khan began his speech by informing his audience that he understands the West very well because he has lived there. However, his remarks as shown above, reveal that the exact opposite is true. Which means that he is either stupendously ignorant or engaging in duplicitous lies. Either way, it offers an insight into how a demagogue is able to abuse his role as head of state and brainwash the Pakistani masses into believing antisemitic tropes.