Freedom of expression analysed
KARACHI: The world was passing through a critical phase as confrontations in different geographical locations needed meaningful dialogue for them to be tackled. This was stated by Hans Joachim Kiderlin, Consul General of Germany in Karachi, while delivering his keynote address at the inaugural session of an international conference “Confrontation versus Dialogue: Different Perspectives on Freedom of Expression and Respect for Religious Sensibilities”, at a local hotel on Tuesday.
The conference was jointly organised by the Area Study Centre for Europe (ASCE), University of Karachi, and Goethe-Institut. The consul general was of the opinion that a judicious thought and tolerant behaviour had to be there before some inter-religious dialogue could be initiated. The freedom of expression was important but it could not be given precedence to religious or cultural sensitivities.
Dr Petra Raymond, Director, Goethe-Institut, while welcoming the participants of the conference, admitted that the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) published by the Danish newspaper in Sep 2005, was the precursor to the unprecedented protests from the Islamic world. It was unfortunate that after not very long Pope Benedict XVI chose to pass some incendiary remarks about Islam that could have been avoided.
The reaction from the Muslims, though not very intense this time, surely required an expression of regret from the pope. The pope expressed his regret but the scars remain unhealed to date requiring meaningful dialogue and respect for the religious feelings of each other. Dr Naveed Ahmed Tahir, Director, ASCE, said the right of freedom of expression was to be examined carefully as it had become a trend to target religious personalities, particularly Islamic.
The defence of the cartoonist was based on the so-called ‘inalienable right to freedom of expression’ which is considered a cornerstone of democracy and civilisation. But the Islamic world considers such expressions as ‘European Values’ unappreciated, unwanted and ignored in other parts of the world. Dr Khalida Ghaus, Javed Jabbar, Dr Mehmet Gormez, Bekir Alboga, Dr Manzoor Ahmed, Ghazi Salahuddin, Dr Muhammad Shamsuddin and Dr Rubab Hasan also spoke in the day-long conference.
Source: The News