Submit and Obey: Iran’s Rouhani Warns Freedom of Speech Ends on Contact with Islam

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the inaugural session of the new parliament following February elections, in Tehran on May 27, 2020. - The 11th legislature since the Islamic revolution of 1979 opened as the country's economy, which has been hard hit by the novel coronavirus, gradually returns …
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday warned freedom of speech is no defense against insulting Islam because “every single European is in debt to the Prophet.”

Instead he said it may encourage “violence and bloodshed” following Paris’ backing of the publication of cartoons that caused upset and “hurt feelings” in the Muslim community.

“Insulting the prophet is no achievement. It’s immoral. It’s encouraging violence,” Rouhani said in a televised speech during the weekly cabinet meeting, the semi-official IRNA newsagency reports.

“It’s a surprise that this would come from those claiming culture and democracy, that they would somehow, even if unintentionally, encourage violence and bloodshed,” he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron has strongly defended the right to mock any religion following the beheading of a French schoolteacher who had shown his class cartoons of Mohammed.

Emmanuel Paty had taught a class on freedom of expression, showing his students cartoons of Muhammad published by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, before he was publicly executed.

The assailant was shot dead by police shortly after the killing and was later identified as Abdullakh Anzorov, a Moscow-born Chechen migrant.

The French government, backed by its citizens, saw the beheading as an attack on free speech and said they would defend the right to display the cartoons while challenging Islam’s assumed “right” to never be criticised or challenged.

Macron’s comments backing free speech over religious fundamentalism triggered protests and a call to boycott French goods in some Muslim-majority countries.

Rouhani said “the West should understand … insulting the Prophet is insulting all Muslims, all prophets, all human values, and trampling ethics”.

He added “every single European is in debt to the Prophet, as he was the teacher of humanity.”

Rouhani also called on the west to step back and “stop interfering in Muslims’ internal affairs” if it “truly seeks to achieve peace, equality, calm and security in today’s societies.”

AFP contributed to this story



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