‘Respect, decency – basis for EU counterterrorism alliance with Muslim states’

European Commission High Representative Federica Mogherini (Reuters / Ints Kalnins)
A coalition between European and Muslim countries to jointly fight extreme Islamism is only possible based on mutual respect, humanity and absence of insults to anyone’s religion, Hani al-Basoos, professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, told RT.

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RT:The EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, says combating terrorism needs a broader coalition of European and Arab countries. Given that some Muslim countries blame Europe for provoking the kind of terrorism that we saw in Paris recently, what would such a coalition look like?

Hani al-Basoos: I think the fact we have to look at from the beginning - the incitements made by the newspaper and incitement made by cartoonist portraying Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him, to be something else. We have to understand the fact that such a figure for all Muslims is respected whether Muslims are moderate or extremist. All have demonstrated against such cartoon and cartoonists because such depiction is giving a bad image of Muslims.

When we talk about cooperation and collaboration [between] Muslims and Western countries this cooperation has to be based on principals: respect, ethics, and a human decency. As long as we can see such newspapers as Charlie [Hebdo] - the newspaper has again published the same cartoon, the same photos of Prophet Mohamed as negative image. In Muslim countries this would make it difficult for any kind of cooperation.

Believers during a protest rally held in Grozny against publications of Prophet Mohammad caricatures on 19 January, 2015 (RIA Novosti / Said Tsarnaev)

When we’ve seen today millions of people, millions of Muslims around the world demonstrating against such an action which has been taken by the newspaper of Charlie [Hebdo] which has been doing the same action, inciting Muslims to be violent. This action will not lead to cooperation. I think collaboration between the Muslim community, the Muslim world and the Western world has to be based on respect, humanity and decency, and not insulting anyone’s religion. What has been [done] by those cartoonists is an insult. This is an unethical action against Muslims and against Islam. We have not seen something like this by Muslims taken against Christianity or against Judaism. …

RT:So that coalition won’t work as long as these cartoons are being published, will it?

HB: Coalition would work based on understanding, based on respect, based on common decency and ethical issues. But as long as we see such cartoons again in newspapers this will insult Muslims, especially those extremists who think in a bad way about those in newspapers… We understand democracy and we understand freedom. But the freedom and democracy doesn’t mean to insult others. And I think any kind of cooperation between the communities and between different faiths should not be based on such an insult which has been witnessed all over again and again.

We have to understand the fact that the Muslim community respects all faiths and all ethnicities and ethical issues. This has to be the basis for all cartoonists and journalists and media outlets because we have to build upon such a fact, we have to understand that a human is a human being, it doesn’t matter if he is a Muslim or a Christian or a Jew or other faith. All have to respect each other. Such an interfaith dialogue, we have seen it in many places in the world, but this has to be implemented, has to be the basis for any kind of collaboration and cooperation in the future.

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