A French archbishop has warned of the dangers of publishing offensive cartoons, noting there are limits to freedom of expression amid renewed tensions between France and the Muslim world.
The Archbishop of Toulouse Robert Le Gall said he opposed the publishing of caricatures insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, saying “there are limits to freedom of speech”.
“These are considered an insult to Muslims and Christians alike and they should not be spread further. We all see their results,” he said in comments to France Bleu radio station, according to an Arabi21 report.
“There are limits to freedom of expression and we should realise that we do not have the right to insult religions,” he added.
Anger has erupted in the Islamic world over French President Emmanuel Macron’s defence earlier this month of the right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, prompting denunciations from several Muslim countries.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the French president of attacking the Muslim faith and urged Muslim countries to work together to counter what he called growing Islamophobia in Europe.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been vocal against France for its Islamophobia, vowed to take “legal and diplomatic action” over another Charlie Hebdo cartoon that depicted Erdogan looking up a woman’s skirt while drinking beer in his underpants.
Turkey’s NTV broadcaster said Ankara had summoned a senior diplomat from the French embassy.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Macron’s defence of cartoons depicting the Prophet a “stupid act” and an “insult” to those who voted for him.
On Friday, the head of Lebanon’s Shia movement Hezbollah urged France to back down from its defence of cartoons..
“Do not allow this mockery, this aggression… to continue, and the whole world will stand with you,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said.
“French authorities instead of fixing the issue… became stubborn about this being freedom of expression,” saying “‘we want to continue with satirical cartoons’,” Nasrallah added.
“You need to think about correcting this mistake.”
Several Christians have also joined those condemning the cartoons.
Jalal Chahda, a senior anchor with the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel, said in a tweet: “I am Jalal Chahda, an Arab Levantine Christian, and I strongly reject and denounce the insult to the Prophet of Islam, the Messenger #Mohammad. Blessings and peace.”
Chahda also attached a photo, saying: “Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace.”
It was followed by comments from his Muslim colleagues praising the tweet.
Ghada Owais, another Al-Jazeera presenter who is also Christian, re-tweeted Chahda’s tweet, saying: “I refuse to hurt the feelings of Muslims or to generalize terrorism and link it to Islam.”
A Twitter user named Ayman Dababneh said: “Who offends and does not respect my Muslim brothers does not respect me as a Jordanian Christian,” he also attached a photo saying “I am Christian against Islam abuse.”
Michael Ayoub said on Twitter: “I really despise the person [who] insults the religion of another or mocks him or his messengers.
Meanwhile, protests erupted across the Middle East and South Asia while calls to boycott French products have grown popular.
French Archbishop | ROBERT LE GALL | French Archbishop