Muslims laud Pope for ‘Hebdo’ remarks
COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Filipino Muslims have lauded Pope Francis for his indirect defense of Islam in the controversy over the French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in its cartoons which resulted in the killing of 10 of the magazine’s editors and two policemen.
Morie Guiam, a college professor and peace worker here, said the magazine’s surviving editors should learn from the Pope’s message which he saw as a consoling remark to every Muslim hurt by the magazine’s cartoons.
Charlie Hebdo publishes cartoons that often ridicule not only the Prophet Mohammed but other prominent leaders as well, such as the Pope, US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, among others.
Guiam noted that, while the fatal attacks on Charlie Hebdo were unfortunate and condemnable, no one had made the magazine publish the offensive cartoons that drove the suspects to kill 12 people.
Cautioning against provocation, Pope Francis en route to the Philippines last Thursday told journalists on the plane the right to liberty of expression came with the obligation to speak for “the common good.”
He said that “there are limits to freedom of expression” and “one cannot make fun of faith.”
To illustrate his point, the Pontiff turned toward the Vatican official standing beside him and said: “If my good friend Dr. (Alberto) Gasparri (an organizer of his trips) says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal, it’s normal. You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”
On his Facebook page, Willy Junghan posted: “Finally the Pope said it. And Pope Francis is right. Just because there is freedom of speech or of the press or whatever freedom does not mean you can just do or say anything your little heart desires.
“That freedom does not give you the right to insult others in words or in (drawings). Always remember that some people can (tolerate) your rudeness in your speech or in your cartoons and some just cannot.”
Moro lawyer Suharto Ambolodto said Pope Francis’ statements could be viewed from a context other than “turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).”
Meanwhile, the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) bewailed the killing in Paris by a pair of brothers who shouted that they were doing it in defense of the Prophet.
In a statement, PCID president Amina Rasul said: “The violence that claimed the lives of 10 French journalists, ostensibly in the name of religion, is anathema to these universally held values of liberty, equality and brotherhood—concepts which are part of the fundamental tenets of Islam.”
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