Religious leaders and EU to argue human rights

Representatives of the world's leading religions will meet with EU leaders this month to discuss how to strike the balance between freedom of expression and religious sensitivities, the European Commission said Friday. "As tensions can arise between the exercise of fundamental human rights and awareness of the feelings of others, it is worth reflecting on the role played by the concept of mutual respect," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

A statement by Barroso, who will jointly chair the May 30 talks with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel, said the meeting will be attended by Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, together with Islamic and Jewish clerics and representatives of various Christian denominations.

Earlier this year, a controversy surrounding the publication of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad sparked a series of violent protests across the Islamic world. Many Muslims denounced the drawings as offensive to their religion. But media outlets from a number of countries have carried the Danish cartoons asserting their right to free expression. "What role can religious communities play in assuaging tensions that may arise? What can they expect from European institutions?" Barroso's statement said, reports the AP.