Page last updated at 12:53 GMT, Sunday, 5 February 2006

In quotes: Protests over cartoons

Protests in the UK over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad have prompted much reaction, including widespread condemnation of a demonstration which threatened violence.

LABOUR MP DAVID WINNICK, HOME AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

The cartoons were deeply offensive to hundreds of millions of Muslims.

But it is totally unacceptable that, on British soil, there should be thugs demonstrating for people to be beheaded and actually glorifying the atrocities of July 7. It is to be hoped that prosecutions will follow very quickly indeed.

Those who are temporarily in Britain, the sooner they are out of the country the better. Those who have been given permission to live here, insofar as it is possible in law, it would be better for this country and indeed for the Muslim community if that right was removed.

I hope it will be the last time we ever see such a demonstration, totally unacceptable to the Muslim community.

DR GHAYASUDDIN SIDDIQUI, MUSLIM PARLIAMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN

We have to realise that these are the same people, the fascist element within our community - these are the supporters of Bin Laden, Jihadism and so on and so forth.

I think in the Muslim world the debate has to begin about freedom of speech, the right of writers and comedians to discuss things because they have to realise its value.

DOMINIC GRIEVE, SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL

I would ordinarily have expected that the individuals who are carrying the placards and behaving in that way would have been arrested on the spot.

Now there may have been good operational reasons for that not happening and the police do have to exercise some discretion, although it's slightly unfortunate that they couldn't be arrested at once, because I think a clear signal has to be sent out about the unacceptability of the behaviour.

TAJI MUSTAFA, HIZB UT-TAHIR

We condemn those (placards), those are not acceptable. Many Muslim groups have condemned the Friday protests and the images that were used then.

What we say to Muslims is that we must not at this time stoop to the level of those who want to resort to insulting the prophet of Islam as a terrorist. We should engage in peaceful, responsible protest.

To say to the 20 million Muslims of Europe, if they want to live here they should accept being insulted - that is not the way forward for any of us. If we talk about harmony and tolerance, we should respect one another.

RT REV MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER

We've learnt in Christianity that Christians need to take criticism, both from outside and also in the sense of looking critically at their origins and their sacred books and past history.

That is important for every religious tradition, including Islam, I'm quite sure. But at the same time, I think for any civilised society there has to be some consensus about what issues are sensitive.

In this country and Europe generally, one wouldn't easily make cartoons about the Holocaust or overtly racist themes. Religious belief also comes into this category of sensitivity and I think Europe will have to learn this more.

SIMON HUGHES, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PRESIDENT

To forbid the freedom to offend is not compatible with modern multi-cultural societies. But inciting violence is always wrong and a crime.

The leaders of the great faith communities should together make clear that the strength of their religions can withstand all attacks, satirical or otherwise.

They should respond to attacks with frankness and clarity but never with hate or retaliation.



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