EU Lawmakers Urge Responsible Media, Reject Limits

European Union lawmakers on Thursday, February 16, called for freedom of expression to be exercised with responsibility but rejected calls for limits on media freedom in the wake of the row over cartoons mocking Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be up

EU Lawmakers Urge Responsible Media, Reject Limits

The European parliament adopted a resolution saying that it "believes that freedom of expression should always be exercised with responsibility and with respect for human rights, religious feelings and beliefs," reported Agence France-Presse (AFP). Austrian President Heinz Fischer, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, said newspapers should respect the view of many Muslims that Prophet Muhammad should not be depicted at all. "If a ban on pictorial representation constitutes an essential element of a religion, one ought not and must not offend against this principle twice -- not only by disrespecting this ban, but also by reinforcing this hurtful violation of a taboo in the form of a caricature," he told the EU assembly.

Twelve cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, first published last September by Denmark's mass-circulation Jyllands-Posten, have caused an uproar in the Muslim world. The drawings included portrayals of the Prophet wearing a time-bomb shaped turban and showed him as a knife-wielding nomad flanked by shrouded women. Newspapers in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Poland, the United States, Japan, Norway, Malaysia, Australia, Jordan, Yemen, Ukraine and Fiji have so far reprinted some of the cartoons. Newspapers which have published the cartoons claim they were exercising their right to freedom of speech.

No Limits

The European lawmakers, however, reject calls for new media limits. "Freedom of expression and the independence of the press as universal rights cannot be undermined by any individual or group that feels offended by what is being said or written," read the resolution. "Redress for any possible offence may be sought through the courts in accordance with existing national and European legislation," it said.

The cartoon crisis has triggered soul-searching in Europe about whether new limits are needed on the media, whether by voluntary codes of conduct or by an extension of existing legislation, a move the EU assembly said would be wrong. Europe's leaders have been caught off guard by the row, according to Reuters. Their reactions have wavered between staunch condemnations of the violence and criticism of the cartoons themselves.

EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini told the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, February 9, that the media should consider a media code of conduct in an effort to avoid a repeat of violent protests over the publication of the insulting cartoons. "The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression. We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."

Muslim countries are pressing for a ban on religious intolerance to be part of the bedrock of a planned new United Nations human rights body. A cohort of Muslim dignitaries and organizations are calling for the enactment of an international law banning the publication of any insults to religious symbols and values. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Arab League, the Muslim world's two main political bodies, are seeking a UN resolution, backed by possible sanctions, to protect religions following the publication of provocative cartoons.

Violence Condemned

The European assembly said that it "condemns in the strongest possible terms" violence against EU embassies that has erupted during cartoon protests. It also "deplores the failure of some governments to prevent violence and that governments have tolerated violent attacks." Muslims protesting against the cartoons set fire to the Danish consulate in Beirut on Sunday and Syrian protesters did the same with the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus a day earlier.

Muslim scholars, including prominent Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, organizations and leaders have been united in condemning the violent attacks against the embassies. The European lawmakers urged further dialogue as the best way to ease tensions. A cohort of 100 Muslim and Western dignitaries will be working on defusing the cartoon crisis and promote understanding between Europe and the Muslim world, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), told CNN on Sunday, February 12. The group, comprising 50 Muslim figures and 50 Western dignitaries, will be co-chaired by Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi ambassador to the US, and Lord Carey, former archbishop of Canterbury.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16