Iranian foreign minister calls to cool down Prophet Muhammad cartoons scandal

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Monday called for an end to the violent protests over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons. "We should try to cool down the situation. We do not support any violence," Mottaki said. He added that freedom of expression must be exercised with sensitivity and with respect for others' values and beliefs. Mottaki spoke at a news conference at the Iranian Embassy to the EU as the protests over the caricatures continued across Asia and two days after 15 people were killed during a riot in northern Nigeria, where Muslims burned 15 Christian churches.

"We are facing ... angry Muslims all around the world. We have to try our best to avoid any violence," he said. "This is what we are trying to do in Iran. ... So many of our policemen were attacked by angry people on the streets." Mottaki said he has been in contact with European foreign ministers as well as officials from Islamic countries to try to quell the protests.

He said European governments were being hypocritical in their respect for freedom of expression pointing to the example of Holocaust deniers, which he said were being put in jail for expressing their opinions.

"When we are talking about the freedom of expression ... it is very strange to see some European authors, some European members of parties are kicked out from their post or their position because they are making or creating some doubt about some part of some historical happening," said Mottaki. "I think that is not defendable." Mottaki was expected to address the issue again during a meeting with the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee later Monday, reports the AP.


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