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ICC Note

The world watched the violent reaction of Muslims to the “offensive” cartoons and many are now realizing the hypocrisy in their response. Christians live in fear for their lives in many Muslim regimes, and the Vatican is asking that Muslim regimes should treat others as they wish to be treated.

Vatican to Muslims – practise what you preach

Reuters (02/23/06)

By Tom Heneghan

To read the full story, click here: Vatican to Muslims – practise what you preach

PARIS (Reuters) – After backing calls by Muslims for respect for their religion in the Mohammad cartoons row, the Vatican is now urging Islamic countries to reciprocate by showing more tolerance towards their Christian minorities.

Roman Catholic leaders at first said Muslims were right to be outraged when Western newspapers reprinted Danish caricatures of the Prophet, including one with a bomb in his turban. Most Muslims consider any images of Mohammad to be blasphemous.

After criticising both the cartoons and the violent protests in Muslim countries that followed, the Vatican this week linked the issue to its long-standing concern that the rights of other faiths are limited, sometimes severely, in Muslim countries.

Vatican prelates have been concerned by recent killings of two Catholic priests in Turkey and Nigeria . Turkish media linked the death there to the cartoons row. At least 146 Christians and Muslims have died in five days of religious riots in Nigeria .

“If we tell our people they have no right to offend, we have to tell the others they have no right to destroy us,” Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican ‘s Secretary of State (prime minister), told journalists in Rome .

“We must always stress our demand for reciprocity in political contacts with authorities in Islamic countries and, even more, in cultural contacts,” Foreign Minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo told the daily Corriere della Sera.

Reciprocity — allowing Christian minorities the same rights as Muslims generally have in Western countries, such as building houses of worship or practising religion freely — is at the heart of Vatican diplomacy towards Muslim states.

Vatican diplomats argue that limits on Christians in some Islamic countries are far harsher than restrictions in the West that Muslims decry, such as France ‘s ban on headscarves in state schools.

Saudi Arabia bans all public expression of any non-Muslim religion and sometimes arrests Christians even for worshipping privately. Pakistan allows churches to operate but its Islamic laws effectively deprive Christians of many rights.

Both countries are often criticised at the United Nations Human Rights Commission for violating religious freedoms.

To read the full story, click here: Vatican to Muslims – practise what you preach