Cartoon row: Annan, leaders issue statement
The group of leaders asked Annan to sound out the United Nations about a resolution banning insults to religion.india Updated: Feb 26, 2006 04:27 IST
UN chief Kofi Annan and European and Muslim leaders issued a statement in Doha on Saturday expressing regret over the cartoons satirizing the Prophet Mohammed and the violent backlash they triggered in the Islamic world.
The group of leaders asked Annan to sound out the United Nations about a resolution banning insults to religion, the UN secretary general told reporters in Doha.
In their joint statement, Annan and the European and Islamic leaders said they "deeply regret the offence given by the caricatures, as well as the loss of life and damage to property in several countries" that ensued in bloody protests.
Appealing for restraint, the statement said: "We reaffirm the universal right to freedom of expression. We appeal to everyone to exercise that right responsibly, and not to use it as a pretext for incitement to hatred or insult to the deeply held belief of any community."
The statement was released ahead of the start of Sunday's conference in Doha of the Alliance of Civilizations. The leaders asked that the statement be referred to the UN Security Council, Annan told reporters.
Annan said he would brief the UN General Assembly on the content of the joint statement and it would be up to member states to decide whether to turn it into a UN resolution.
The meeting was attended by Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Arab League chief Amr Mussa, and the foreign ministers of Qatar, Spain and Turkey.