Sunday, February 5, 2006

Statement issued by the ICF’s President and Founder President, 5th February 2006

On behalf of the ICF— and in our personal names— we want to tell our Muslim brothers and sisters that, while profoundly deploring all kind of violence, we understand fully their sorrow and anger after the publication of blasphemous cartoons in some Western newspapers. This has nothing to do with the right to inform. It is, out of the blue, a deliberate attempt to hurt and provoke. It is the expression of stupidity but also of a total lack of sensitivity for the feelings of others. We not only condemn those cartoons, we feel—and it is particularly the case of the Christians among us— that they are directed against us as well.

The ICF believes that the mission of the media is, on the one hand, to honestly and fully inform our audience, so that citizens can be the proper support of a living democracy, but also, on the other hand, to bring people together and to move from understanding to mutual understanding. The publication of those cartoons has nothing to do with this vision of the role and mission of the media.

These painful circumstances remind us however of two important facts:

1/ The freedom of the press is not the freedom to offend and insult. As we know, my freedom itself ends where the freedom of others starts. As writes our friend Michael Smith, from Initiatives of Change, “Freedom of the press has to be balanced with the notion of responsibility for the impact that the media has on audiences’ sensitivities”. We are solidly in favour of the freedom of the press, but we cannot accept this freedom to be misused in an attempt to hurt the feeling and faith of our brothers and sisters. Freedom, and freedom of the press in particular, is indeed nothing without responsibility.

2/ We urge our Muslim friends not to believe that those scandalous publications are expressing the animosity against them of “the West” or “the Christians”. Those who are making a mockery of the Muslim faith will do the same tomorrow against all other faiths. In fact they are attacking all faiths. This remind us that we, people of faith, of all faiths, we more than ever should be together. The 21st century will be saved if people to whom moral and spiritual values matter act together.

Let us take a positive lesson from this painful circumstance: indeed only if we people of faith stay together— with all people of good will on earth- we have a chance to break at last the vicious circle of violence and hatred, in which evil people of all sides will like to confine us. We appeal to our Muslim brothers and sisters on these difficult days: be with us as we are with you!

Bernard Margueritte, President
William Porter, Founder President