UNITED NATIONS — Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday said the production of an anti-Islam film and publication of cartoons perceived as insulting to Muslims cannot be justified as freedom of speech or expression, but that they also must not be used as an excuse for violence.
“We strongly condemn these offensive acts, whether it involves the production of a film, the publication of cartoons, or indeed any other acts of insult and provocation,” he added.
The low-budget film that mocks Islam’s prophet Muhammad was produced in the U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have condemned it, as did several world leaders who addressed the U.N. session on Tuesday. Mr. Obama, too, focused a large part of his address earlier in the day on the film and the deadly protests that followed in the Muslim world. Four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, have been killed in the violence.
Mr. Karzai said the production of the film and publication of cartoons lampooning the prophet can “never be justified as freedom of speech or expression.”
“Equally, they cannot give reason for the genuine protests to be used to incite violence and chaos with terrible losses of innocent lives,” he added.
The Afghan leader expressed concern over “the menace of Islamophobia,” which he described as a “worrying phenomenon that threatens peace and coexistence among cultures and civilizations.”
Mr. Karzai called on Western leaders, politicians and the media, to confront Islamophobia. “We must work to defeat the protagonists of the conflict of civilizations, and support the voices of tolerance and understanding,” he said.
“It is in deference to the immense sacrifices of the Afghan people, and the precious lives lost from the international community, that the campaign against terrorism must be taken to the sources of terrorism and must be result-oriented,” he said.
He said he was hopeful Pakistan would play a critical role in the reconciliation process, but that incidents such as the recent shelling of Afghan villages risked undermining efforts by both governments to work together.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who addressed the session earlier in the evening, said his country supports the Afghan government’s efforts make peace with terrorists.
Mr. Zardari said a search for peace must be “Afghan-owned, Afghan-driven and Afghan-led” and that Pakistan would support any process that “reflects Afghan national consensus.”View Entire Story
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Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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