ISLAMABAD: Following two separate “heinous” acts of desecration of the Holy Quran in Denmark and the Netherlands last week, Pakistan issued a forceful condemnation on Monday, calling it a symptom of rising intolerance and Islamophobia. “The recurrence of such wilful and vile acts is a troubling manifestation of growing hatred, racism and phobia against Muslims and their faith,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said. She added that the reported occurrence of such premeditated acts calls into question the efficacy of the legal framework behind which Islamophobes hide and incite hatred with impunity. The FO spokesperson added that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression could not be used as a smokescreen to deliberately denigrate the holy scriptures or personalities of any religion. “Pakistan believed that freedom of expression came with responsibilities.” She called on all states to develop legal deterrence with a view to preventing and prosecuting such acts, in line with the responsibilities and duties enshrined in international human rights law. “We also call upon the international human rights machinery to speak out against such intentional actions that constitute an incitement to hate, discrimination and violence against Muslims solely because of their faith,” the spokesperson remarked. The foreign office spokesperson said that it is the responsibility of national governments and the international community at large to prevent such vile acts, which are perpetrated with the ulterior motive to provoke and incite religious hatred and violence.