The statement came at a time of tension between the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, and Muslim leaders of the world, including the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for the defense of the French to the publication of cartoons by the Islamic prophet Muhammad (learn more at the end of the story).
In a statement, the UN agency said that Moratinos “follows with great concern the growing tensions and cases of intolerance triggered by the publication of satirical caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which Muslims consider insulting and deeply offensive”.
“The incendiary cartoons also provoked acts of violence against innocent civilians who were attacked for their religion, belief or ethnicity,” lamented Moratinos, who has previously held the position of Spain’s foreign minister.
“Insulting religions and sacred religious symbols provokes hatred and violent extremism, leading to the polarization and fragmentation of society,” he added.
The French president has been defending the right to make caricatures of religious figures like the prophet Muhammad after the assassination of Samuel Paty on the outskirts of Paris. The victim was a teacher who had shown a drawing of the Islamic leader during a free speech class.
In response, there were protests around the world against Macron’s statements. In Islam, caricaturing Muhammad or depicting him with drawings is considered heresy. The Turkish president also strongly criticized the Frenchman’s statements, especially after the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo made a cartoon of Erdogan himself. There were calls for boycotts of French products.
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