An opportunity wasted.


Byline: Amna Umar Khan

At the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Makkah, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan started off his first ever OIC speech, emphasising the issue he deems the most urgent and compelling concern facing Muslims of the world. He said, 'I would raise, first and foremost, the most important question, about whenever in the Western countries, people blaspheme our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), I always felt that the response from the Muslim Ummah, and the OIC, was lacking. Therefore I wanted to use this platform (to say) that the OIC owes a responsibility to the Muslim world that when anyone in the Western world blasphemes the Prophet (PBUH), it is a failure of the OIC that we have not been able to explain to the western people the amount of pain they cause us.'

The rest of Prime Minister Imran Khan's speech centred upon the oppression the Muslims are facing in Palestine and Kashmir by being deprived of their right to a state and to self-determination. He also said that the Muslim world was not paying much attention to science and technology, despite being on the verge of another industrial revolution with the artificial intelligence and new technologies coming in, and urged more emphasis on education and science.

As with all things to do with Imran Khan, the reception to this speech has been divided. Those who were his fans lauded his speech and the rare occurrence of a Muslim leader headlining the topic of blasphemy in front of the OIC, the second largest intergovernmental body after the UN. Yet his speech has received some criticism, not all from PTI haters or partisan groups, but from some in the international and Arab community as well. The platform, that of the OIC which represents the Muslim collective of the world, is a very meaningful and significant one; thus it would not be out of place to make some constructive criticism of the Prime Minister's speech.

For one, bringing up blasphemy by Western actors as the first and foremost topic in his maiden speech at the OIC begs us to answer the question as to whether that is the most pressing issue facing Muslims currently. Certainly, blasphemy and casual disrespect of Islam in the West is a concern for Muslims; it leads to further marginalisation of the Muslim community in the Western world and causes anti-Muslim radicalisation, leading to the kinds of disasters that we saw in the Christ Church mosque massacre in March. The organised instances of blasphemy...

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