5th Dec 2023

Solana warns against EU-muslim cartoon rift

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said that the Danish cartoon row should not be allowed to cause a rift between Europeans and Muslims, while visiting the Middle East in a bid to soothe tension over the drawings.

Mr Solana visited Egypt on Tuesday (14 February) as part of a trip of muslim countries aimed at defusing the row over Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.

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Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September published cartoons of the prophet, which were later republished by other European media, causing violent protests in the muslim world.

Mr Solana said in Cairo on Tuesday according to Reuters "We have constructed a very deep relationship and we would like not only to maintain that but to deepen that relationship."

"We should not allow the latest developments to separate us," he added.

"Our societies should cement a sense of dialogue, a sense of having relations guided by respect, by affection, by the number of problems that we have to solve together," Mr Solana indicated after talks with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

UN texts against blasphemy

The EU's top foreign policy official on Monday visited Saudi Arabia, where he met the leader of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

The OIC is pushing for the United Nations to adopt a reference against blasphemy in the tenets of a new human rights body.

Mr Solana on Tuesday signalled the EU might be supportive of this idea, stating "We are working on some ideas. I cannot be very precise, but we are working on some ideas that maybe it is possible to get through," according to Reuters.

Deutsche Welle quotes Mr Solana’s spokeswoman Cristina Gallach as saying "They want mechanisms to guarantee this is not repeated and we should be able to find it in UN conventions on human rights."

Italian t-shirts

Meanwhile, protesters in the Iranian capital of Tehran threw stones and firework at the German embassy in Teheran shouting "Germany, you are fascists and servants of Zionism."

The protests come after a German newspaper last week published a cartoon portraying Iranian soccer players as suicide bombers.

The row is set to be stirred further after comments by the Italian government minister Roberto Calderoli, who said on Tuesday he would start wearing t-shirts displaying the Danish cartoons.

MEPs express solidarity with Denmark in cartoon row

European lawmakers have spoken out on the Danish-Muslim cartoon conflict and are expected to issue a resolution condemning the violent protests, supporting Denmark and backing freedom of expression.

Afghanistan is a 'forever emergency,' says UN head

Afghanistan is a "forever emergency" rendered worse by an isolated country intent on dismantling human rights, says UN refugee agency (UNHCR) representative for the country, Leonard Zulu.

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