De Gucht: cartoon violence cannot be justified

8th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

8 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Alarmed by ongoing violence, Belgian Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Karel De Gucht said on Wednesday the satirical cartoons of Mohammed must not be used to justify violence.

8 February 2006

BRUSSELS — Alarmed by ongoing violence, Belgian Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Karel De Gucht said on Wednesday the satirical cartoons of Mohammed must not be used to justify violence.

The minister admitted that the issues of freedom of the press and respect for religions represented "a difficult balancing act".

"Freedom of speech is a fundamental cornerstone of a democratic society, but at the same time, responsible media can contribute to the stimulation of dialogue and mutual respect," De Gucht said.

He stressed further that governments may not influence the press, but added that the press must responsibly decide what it publishes.

De Gucht regretted the fact that the Danish cartoons have insulted the religious believes of people, but stressed that the cartoons "may not and cannot justify violence".

The minister wants to focus on the future and is hoping as OSCE chairman that he can contribute this year to improved dialogue and understanding between religions and cultures.

Meanwhile, EU President and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel has also expressed concern about the "spiralling of provocations".

He also criticised Iran, where a contest is being staged to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust.

The chancellor also regrets the fact that the website of the Arab European League (AEL) has published anti-Semitic cartoons on its website.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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