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French Version

Jordan's king seeks resolution to respect religions

'Cartoons cannot be justified under any pretext of freedom of expression'

Jordan's King Abdullah II said Wednesday he supported efforts to secure a UN resolution against attacks on Islam, its prophets and other religions amid global Muslim anger over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

The king "stressed that Jordan strongly backs suggestions aimed at securing a decision in the UN General Assembly concerning the fight against offenses on Islam, the prophets and other religions," a court statement said.

"The cartoons published in some European newspapers undermining the Prophet Mohammad cannot be justified under any pretext of freedom of expression," the king told visiting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

He also urged the European Union and all European governments to "strive to put an end to such harmful activities that provoked the feelings of all Muslims," the statement added.

King Abdullah also warned against any attempts to "exploit the issue to sow hatred between religions," particularly after the wave of violence that swept Muslim countries after the cartoons were published.

"It is important that the expression of anger and condemnation for what happened occur in such a way to reflect he truth about Islam which is a religion based on moderation," the king said.

Solana is in Jordan as part of a regional tour aimed at repairing ties strained by the Prophet Mohammad cartoons initially published in Denmark in September and later printed elsewhere in Europe.

"I would like to express very clearly that the European Union people do respect the countries of this part of the world ... and don't want to offend anybody," Solana told a news conference.

"It is our wish to (narrow) the bridges that should have never been damaged," he said.

"I would like to repeat it: the respect for the people that belong to this land is total. The respect to any religion is total," Solana said.

But he admitted that he could not "guarantee that everybody in the world is going to be full of common sense."

UN officials in Geneva said on Tuesday that Muslim countries are pressing for a ban on religious intolerance to be part of the bedrock of a planned new United Nations human rights body.

There have also been calls across the Muslim world for a separate UN resolution on respect for religions.

Irish President Mary McAleese, also in Amman, appealed for efforts to ease tensions stemming from the publication of the cartoons during an address to the Jordanian Parliament.

"I am very conscious of the sense of hurt and anger felt in the Islamic world following the publication of images of the Prophet Mohammad," said McAleese, the first Irish president ever to visit Jordan.

"At the same time it is important that we resist violent attempts to exploit less powerful emotions by those who would wish to drive us apart," she said.

"We all now have an obligation to re-examine our relationships and to ensure that they are based on, and at all times reflect, a real sense of respect for each other's deeply-held values, beliefs, cultures and traditions."

The European Union said Wednesday that the mutual trust between religious communities has been badly damaged by the recent crisis, and called the furor a "most regrettable development."

"The controversy represents a most regrettable development because it touches upon something that the member states have striven for many years. We have all sought a reciprocal trust and respect between the religious communities in our various countries. Now this trust ... appears to have been badly shaken," said Hans Winkler, Austria's state secretary for European affairs. Austria holds the rotating EU presidency.

"We must ask ourselves what has gone wrong and what can be done to prevent such occurrences in the future," Winkler told the European Parliament, adding that freedom of speech must be exercised with responsibility and sensitivity to other people's cultural and religious values.

The Daily Star

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