02/15/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Bishops: 'no' to the cartoons on Muhammad; it's a mistake to republish them

by Qaiser Felix
The archbishop of Lahore and the president of the Pakistan bishops' conference, Lawrence Saldanha, explains to AsiaNews that the decision of the Danish newspapers cannot be justified through freedom of expression. Justice and Peace: the last time we all suffered, and the West must understand this.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - The Pakistan bishops' conference "openly condemn(s) the republishing of the Muhammad caricatures, as it hurts the feelings of over one billion Muslims . . . and cannot be justified through freedom of expression",  Lawrence Saldanha, archbishop of Lahore and president of the Pakistan bishops' conference, tells AsiaNews.

In recent days, 17 Danish newspapers have decided to republish the satirical cartoons on the Muslim prophet, which were harshly criticised after their first appearance in 2006.  The move, explain the Copenhagen editors, was decided immediately after the death threats made against one of the cartoonists.

According to Archishop Saldanha, "We should not make fun of and humiliate other faiths, but should respect every other religion. We are sorry, and pray for a peaceful and positive solution of this matter".  Peter Jacob, secretary of the episcopal commission for justice and peace, explains: "The West must understand that those who live in another part of the world, for one reason or another, suffered greatly after the initial publication of these cartoons".

The reference is to the attacks carried out in 2006 by Muslim fanatics against the Christian minority in that country, which were justified precisely on the basis of the cartoons.  "Now, republishing them makes no sense: it is not an action that can be justified through freedom of expression, because a decision of this kind does nothing but complicate things".

In recent days, some Muslim students have taken to the streets of Karachi to burn Danish flags and shout slogans against America and president Musharraf, who is accused of not protesting strongly enough against the publications.  Now it is feared that the protests could take root in the rest of the country.

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