Head of Muslim League on Prophet cartoon: We are not against freedoms, only hatred

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Muslims do not stand against constitutional freedoms of individuals, only attempts to distort those freedoms and using them to spread hatred, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Mohammed al-Issa told Al Arabiya on Monday.

“We are not against legitimate freedoms, but we are against employing those freedoms for material gain, undermining their value. We are also against the consequential spread of hatred and racism,” he said.

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Al-Issa’s statement comes amid controversy over the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a French school class on freedom of expression whose teacher was then murdered by someone French President Emmanuel Macron labeled an “Islamist.”

Macron defended the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

This came after a French teacher was beheaded last week near Paris after he had shown cartoons of the Prophet during a class about free speech. Macron had said the slain teacher was a “victim of an Islamist terrorist attack.”

The French president also said: “We will not give up cartoons,” in a ceremony to honor the teacher last week. He added: “He was killed because Islamists want our future,” while vowing “they will never have it.”

The incident has ignited debate about respecting religions and spurred many leaders in the Islamic world to condemn the crime but stress the importance of respecting prophets.

Al-Issa condemned in the strongest terms the cartoons and said they were offensive to Muslim. However, he stressed that the stature of the Prophet was much too great to be slighted by mere cartoons.

He encouraged Muslims to avoid “any negative overreaction,” and act only based on the teachings of the Islamic faith.

“Inconsequential newspaper with barely any sales or subscriptions, unimportant and obscure illustrators gained international fame effortlessly and free of charge. This is due to the negative reactions which helped them become famous,” he said.

Al-Issa added: “The European Court of Human Rights ruled that insulting our Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, does not fall within the scope of freedom of expression.”

“In short, the principle of freedoms cannot be an excuse to spread hatred.”

- With Agencies

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