The NY Times is reporting that Kofi Annan (UN), Javier Solana (European Union), and Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (Organization of the Islamic Conference) released a joint statement that expressed understanding of Muslim outrage at the Jyllands-Posten Muhammed cartoons while strongly supporting freedom of expression and of the press. The statement also deplored the violent response to the cartoons that has swept the Muslim world:
We fully uphold the right of free speech. But we understand the deep hurt and widespread indignation felt in the Muslim World. We believe freedom of the press entails responsibility and discretion, and should respect the beliefs and tenets of all religions.
But we also believe the recent violent acts surpass the limits of peaceful protest. In particular, we strongly condemn the deplorable attacks on diplomatic missions that have occurred in Damascus, Beirut and elsewhere.
Aggression against life and property can only damage the image of a peaceful Islam. We call on the authorities of all countries to protect all diplomatic premises and foreign citizens against unlawful attack.
These events make the need for renewed dialogue, among and between communities of different faiths and authorities of different countries, all the more urgent. We call on them to appeal for restraint and calm, in the spirit of friendship and mutual respect,.
This is precisely the line I’ve taken here in discussing the terrible events which have unfolded over the past week or so both in Europe and the Muslim world. I hope more moderate voices on both sides will have the courage to carve out a “middle ground” on this tragic incident. We need more thought, more talk, more reason; and less emotion and less hotheaded action. I don’t mean to say we should sweep our differences under the rug or stifle our concerns whether one is a Muslim, a journalist or a European. But we must engage one another instead of shouting at one another.