The undersigned European National Human Rights Institutions, meeting in Copenhagen on 2 February 2006, follow with deep concern the current lack of dialogue caused by the printing of drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, and the subsequent international response.
The European national human rights institutions are obviously fully committed to the protection and promotion of the right to freedom of expression, as well as to the right to respect for one’s religion. Freedom of expression is often seen as a precondition for the exercise of other rights and as such imperative to a democratic society, but is and has never been unconditional. All human rights must be exercised in a way which does not violate the rights of others.
European history has taught us the extremely dangerous consequences of a gradual accumulation of events reinforcing an explicit divide between majority and ethnic and religious minorities. Such divide foster hate and aggression that is counterproductive to any society. The publication of the drawings and the obvious reaction to them should be seen in the context of this harsh and dichotomising debate.
We therefore take this opportunity to urge governments, independent institutions and civil society everywhere to collaborate in an effort to ensure and promote a climate of peaceful dialogue, with respect for diversity and human rights without any form of discrimination.
Mrs. Haritini Dipla, Vice-President of the Greek Commission for Human Rights
Mr. Maurice Manning, President of the Irish Human Rights Commission
Mr. Morten Kjaerum, Executive Director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights
Mr. Joël Thoraval, President of the French Advisory Commission for Human Rights