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‘Freedom of expression is not licence to incite the feelings of others’

By a staff reporter / 2 February 2006

DUBAI — “Freedom of expression is one thing, but it should not be confused with acts of inciting feelings, which is what has happened in Denmark.”

This was how many responded to an ongoing survey by Khaleej Times on the publication of cartoons insulting Islam as a religion.

“America took objection to the way Al Jazeera was covering the Iraq war, saying such coverage was inciting anti-American feelings and hatred and violence against its forces in Iraq. It means one cannot do anything in the name of freedom of expression.” “There is a clear dividing line,” noted a senior government official, who does not want to be identified.

“You cannot mix up these two things,” he said, adding that the West must practise what it preached.

“The media must act above such partisan feelings. Journalists must be more tolerant, mature and sensible. They shouldn’t be doing such things, wherever they are, or of whatever religion they belong to", said a senior journalist.

“Freedom of expression means freedom to express one’s views in ways that will not affect social harmony. Otherwise, you face consequences. That applies to Al Jazeera, or American journals, and even to the Danish media,” he noted.

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