US sides with Muslims in cartoon dispute

Fri Feb 3, 2006 12:13 PM ET170

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington on Friday condemned
caricatures in European newspapers of the Prophet
Mohammad, siding with Muslims who are outraged that
the publications put press freedom over respect for

By inserting itself into a dispute that has become a
lightning rod for anti-European sentiment across the
Muslim world, the United States could help its own
battered image among Muslims.

"These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of
Muslims," State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper
said in answer to a question. "We all fully recognize
and respect freedom of the press and expression but it
must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting
religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not

"We call for tolerance and respect for all communities
for their religious beliefs and practices," he added.

Major U.S. publications have not republishing the
cartoons, which include depictions of Mohammad as a
terrorist. That is in contrast to European media,
which responded to the criticism against the original
Danish newspaper that printed the caricatures by
republishing the offensive images themselves.


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