Insulting Holy Prophet (PBUH) does not count as freedom of expression: Putin

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak prior to a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of State in Bishkek on June 14, 2019. — AFP/File

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that insulting Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) does not count as freedom of expression.

Putin’s views came during his annual  press conference, during which he stressed on the importance of “artistic freedom without hindrance to religious freedom”, Russian News Agency TASS reported on Thursday.

Insults to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) are a “violation of religious freedom and the violation of the sacred feelings of people who profess Islam,” Putin said.

The Russian president also expressed his disapproval of websites posting photos of Nazis.

TASS, quoting Putin,  said that such acts “give rise to extremist reprisals”, an example of which is the attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris after it published blasphemous cartoons of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Putin praised artistic freedom in general, but warned that it is one that has its limits and must never infringe on other freedoms.

The Russian president, according to the publication, said his country has “evolved as a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state”, adding that its people “are used to respecting each other’s traditions”.

Such respect is not found in the same measure in some other countries, Putin remarked.

PM welcomes Putin’s statement

Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed Putin’s statement, saying that it reaffirms his own message that insulting the Holy Prophet (PBUH) cannot be considered freedom of expression.

“We Muslims, especially Muslim leaders, must spread this message to leaders of the non-Muslim world to counter Islamophobia,” the premier wrote on Twitter.

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