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The President of SIGNIS, Augustine Loorthusamy condemned the publication of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad which were published recently in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten, in a statement released on February 10th.
"As a worldwide association of Catholic media professionals we join with all those who have strongly criticised the decision to publish the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad which were published recently in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten.
We wish, however, also to reiterate our unswerving commitment to the principles of freedom of speech and expression. Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right and the basis of free and democratic societies.
Freedom of speech, of course, is a responsibility as well as a right and in this instance the publication of the cartoons was deeply irresponsible. The cartoons were nothing more than stereotypical smears which were neither insightful nor effective.
But the provocation of the cartoons does not justify the violence and fanaticism of some of those who have protested against them. We support those Muslims who have condemned the violence and urged the protestors to rely solely on peaceful means. Furthermore, we condemn all forms of incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion, race or other characteristics. The antidote to extremism is dialogue and understanding between communities, whether religious or secular.
At our recent World Congress in Lyon we committed ourselves to joining with all those who are contributing to a Culture of Peace through the media. We reiterate that commitment and pledge ourselves anew to communicate through the media in ways that contribute to peace, build inter-religious and intercultural dialogue and foster democratic debate based on mutual respect and tolerance."