Putin says insulting Prophet Muhammad 'violates religious freedom'

Putin says insulting Prophet Muhammad 'violates religious freedom'
2 min read
25 December, 2021
Putin said Russia’s identity evolution as a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional state had fostered respect among its citizens for each other’s beliefs.
President Putin made the remarks during his annual press conference on Thursday [Getty]

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that insults against the Prophet Muhammad are a “violation of religious freedom” and go beyond the right to free expression.

Putin made the comments during an annual press conference on Thursday, Russia’s official TASS news agency reported.

"What are insults against the Prophet Muhammad? Is this creative freedom? I think not. This is a violation of freedom of religion and a violation of the holy feelings of people who profess Islam, and this brings to life other, even more, acute and extremist manifestations," the Russian leader said.

"Russia was formed as a multinational and multi-confessional state, and we are used to basically treat each other's interests and traditions with respect. This is indeed a very powerful base of existence, a solid basis for the existence of Russia as a multinational state," he added.

Putin said Russia’s identity evolution as a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional state had fostered respect among its citizens for each other’s beliefs.

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The president also took shot at French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of Islam’s prophet, saying that such moves give rise to extremism.

The issue of freedom of expression and freedom to insult religious beliefs, particularly those of Muslims, has long been a hot topic of discussion in Western countries.

In the late 1980s, the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses - a story which lampooned aspects of the Prophet Muhammad’s life -triggered an outpouring of rage from Muslim communities in the West and from some Muslim leaders. The outrage culminated in a now-rescinded fatwa issued by Iran’s late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini urging Rushdie’s death.

More recently, Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures of Islam’s prophet have triggered both peaceful protests and violent reprisals from extremists. In 2015, gunmen stormed the publication's office in Paris, killing 12 people.

While the cartoons have been staunchly defended by French public figures and officials, including President Emmanuel Macron, critics say that the caricatures are thinly-disguised racist attacks on France's ethnic minorities, many of whom are Muslim.