Thursday, October 04, 2012

Statement from the Secretary General of The Next Century Foundation - Recent Events in the Middle East and Beyond


Recent publication of material dishonouring the Prophet Mohammed is an affront to the Islamic world and has caused an outpouring of religious outrage. The NCF, along with many others condemn such anti-Islamic material as deeply insulting and offensive.

NCF also condemns the violence being perpetrated in reaction to this material, causing death and injury to many, as excessive and unjustified.


  • The vast majority of Muslims are not involved in the violent, destructive, and murderous protests,

  • Such protests are susceptible to political manipulation by those intent on fomenting a culture of violence in the region,

  • Violent protests are easier to orchestrate in areas of high unemployment with populations harbouring simmering resentment about their poverty and lack of opportunity for progress,

  • Religious insults and religious outrage require religious responses. The unequivocal condemnation of the insulting material by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, as well as other senior Western and Middle Eastern politicians, is necessary but insufficient. Religious leaders at the local and national level must take a lead in condemning both the offensive material and the ensuing violence. Muslim leaders have a particular responsibility to avert unjustified violence against the innocent, invoking the Qur’an and the spirit of the Constitution of Medina.

  • Jewish and Christian leaders must also play a part in showing their condemnation of provocative material intended to stir up religious bigotry.


While Western ideals of freedom of expression are themselves revered, they have their limits. In some European countries such freedoms are legally constrained if used to incite hatred against ethnic or religious groups. There is an argument for both the protection of, and limits to, freedom of expression being enshrined in the laws of the nations of the world.

To prevent or mitigate further episodes of religious outrage, religious and political leaders must commit themselves to the promotion of tolerance, fairness and mutual respect among peoples and nations. Such leadership must also be promoted at the level of streets, homes and local places of worship. Whether we are believers or not we all have a stake in striving for peace and harmony in the only world we can call home.



Ends










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