EU Urges Respect for Religious Beliefs, Vows Dialogue

The European Union upheld the principal of free speech but urged respect for religious beliefs, vowing to promote dialogue with the Muslim world after the row triggered by Danish cartoons mocking Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).

EU Urges Respect for Religious Beliefs, Vows Dialogue

"The Council (of EU member states) acknowledges and regrets that these cartoons were considered offensive and distressing by Muslims across the world," the EU foreign ministers said in a statement issued on Monday, February 27, reported the BBC. They defended the fundamental right of free expression, but asserted that "freedoms come with responsibilities."

"Freedom of expression should be exercised in a spirit of respect for religious and other beliefs and convictions. Mutual tolerance and respect are universal values we should all uphold," read the statement. The cartoons, one of them showing the Prophet with a bomb-shaped turban, were first published in Denmark last year and later reprinted by newspapers in many countries on the ground of freedom of expression.

The drawings, one of them showing the Prophet with a bomb-shaped turban and considered blasphemous under Islam, have triggered massive and sometimes violent demonstrations across the Muslim world. The UN, Arab states and the world's largest Islamic body on Saturday, February 25, urged respect for all religions, regretting the publication of the cartoons.

Dialogue

The 25-nation bloc pledged to promote dialogue with the Muslim world following the cartoon row. "The EU and its member states will actively promote dialogue, mutual understanding and respect through all mechanisms," the statement said. "The EU underlines the specific need for initiatives aimed at representatives of the media as well as young people," they added.

World dignitaries opened on Sunday, February 26, the second conference of the UN-sponsored Alliance of Civilizations in Doha, urging action not talk to bridge the yawning gap between the Muslim world and the West. Emerging from the EU meeting, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller urged all parties to move on. "It is important that we draw a line, that we move forward," he said after the meeting.

Denmark, suffering a massive boycott campaign across the Muslim world, has recently unveiled a series of initiatives to build bridges with Muslims. It has welcomed an initiative by Muslim preacher Amr Khaled to visit the Scandinavian country with a host of Muslim youths to engage in a dialogue with Danish youths and intellectuals. The country is further planning a series of initiatives to build bridges with the Muslim world after the row. But Denmark has refused to apologize on behalf of Jyllands-Posten, the mass-circulation daily that commissioned and printed the cartoons.

No Violence

The European top diplomats expressed concern over the violent acts triggered by the insulting cartoons. "The Council expresses its deep concern at the events that followed the publication of cartoons in a number of European and other media."

The drawings have sparked some violent protests that led to deaths in some countries like Nigeria and Pakistan. Demonstrators set fire to the Danish consulate in Beirut earlier in the month and Syrian protesters did the same with the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus.

The violence drew unanimous condemnation from Muslim scholars worldwide. The cartoon controversy has prompted Muslim minorities in the West to champion local campaigns to promote awareness of the messenger of God.

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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