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OIC calls for laws to protect sanctity of religions


By P.K. Abdul Ghafour

JEDDAH, Arab News: The 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference yesterday urged all Islamic organizations as well as Muslim leaders to work together for the adoption of legislations to protect the sanctity of religions and the Prophets.

In a statement, the OIC, the world’s largest Muslim organization, also called for a large-scale awareness campaign to explain the facts about Islam and the life and noble character of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

It also referred to the joint statement made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, EU Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana and OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on the issue of Danish cartoons denigrating the Prophet.

“We understand the deep hurt and widespread indignation felt in the Muslim world,” the joint statement said, adding that the freedom of the press, which entails responsibility and discretion, should respect the beliefs and tenets of all religions.

The UN General Assembly had adopted on Dec. 16, 2005, a strong resolution on defamation of religions. “This joint statement and the UN resolution provide the legal ground for condemnation of acts of European newspapers,” the OIC said.

“This is a very important achievement and we must seize the opportunity to preserve the momentum for joint action to prevent a recurrence of this despicable act,” it added. “To combat Islamophobia in the West we must work toward the adoption of relevant legislations.”

In a related development, Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, condemned the offensive cartoons insulting the Prophet.

“The cartoons are offensive and insulting. For the life of me, I cannot see how such an offensive and insulting cartoon can be considered part of freedom of speech or freedom of the press,” he told The Associated Press.

“We’d never think of insulting or offending the prophets of other religions: Jesus, Moses, David, Solomon, Job,” Turki said. “We consider them all to be our prophets.”

The comments came a day after Prince Turki issued a statement with Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, calling for a reasoned approach to the issue that takes into consideration bringing people of the Muslim faith, the Christian faith and the Jewish faith “to better understanding rather than bitter disputes.”

The ambassador said the violent response to the cartoons was unhelpful and unnecessary.

“Our prophet himself was insulted, violence was inflicted upon him when he preached his message to the idolaters and nonbelievers, and he met that violence with forgiveness,” Turki said.

In Tokyo, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Japan was concerned about the “difficult situation” created by the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in newspapers and magazines in Denmark, other West European countries, Jordan and elsewhere.

The ministry, however, rejected violence and vandalism on the issue.

“We urge all parties concerned to reduce tension and refrain from any action or statement that might aggravate the situation,” the ministry said.

It underlined Japan’s efforts to promote mutual understanding through peaceful dialogue and mutual respect between people of different faiths.§ion=0&article=77569&d=10&m=2&y=2006

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