EU moves to prevent religious hatred and violence

29th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 June 2007, Strasbourg (dpa) - Responding to the scandal caused by caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, the European Council intends to strengthen its efforts to prevent hatred and violence against religious groups, it stated in a resolution passed in Strasbourg Friday. The resolution, which was passed with a large majority, also said that "criticism of religious groups should be tolerated in democratic societies." However, the council put a limit on religious criticism and freedom of opinion: it was not

29 June 2007

Strasbourg (dpa) - Responding to the scandal caused by caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, the European Council intends to strengthen its efforts to prevent hatred and violence against religious groups, it stated in a resolution passed in Strasbourg Friday.

The resolution, which was passed with a large majority, also said that "criticism of religious groups should be tolerated in democratic societies."

However, the council put a limit on religious criticism and freedom of opinion: it was not allowed to incite hatred, disturb the public order or be targeted at members of religious groups.

The incitement of hatred and violence against religious groups was to be punished in the 47 member states of the European Council, the resolution said.

Germany already has laws to that effect, and offending religious convictions is punishable.

Enlightened Islamic religious communities in Western countries could play an important role in the fight against extremism, legislators from the Netherlands and from Scandinavia said.

"They could help to protect youths from seduction by fundamentalists and to fight customs such as forced marriages," Dutch socialist Anja Meulenbelt said.

So far, one had expected Muslim immigrants in European countries to adapt to local customs in a one-sided way, she said. That had to change, she added. "Racism can easily hide behind the protective wall of religious criticism."

Independent Russian legislator Anatoly Korobejnikov said Muslims would soon be in a majority in Western Europe due to demographic developments. He demanded more religious studies lessons in schools, which would not interfere with the separation of State and Church.

"The Church might be separate from the State, but not from society," he said. In this way, dialogue between Christians, Muslims and other religious groups could be fostered.

DPA

Subject: German news

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