Members of the European Parliament have been debating the controversy over the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said the sensitivities of Muslims and their right to peaceful protest had to be respected.
But he added: “Freedom of speech is part of Europe’s values and traditions. Let me be clear: freedom of speech is not negotiable. Like all freedoms, it’s preservation depends on responsible use by individuals”. Former Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen appealed for people to keep things in perspective. “No, it is not a clash between religions or civilisations,” he said. “What we have witnessed are ignorant acts creating humiliation and insult. And this was used by extremists to inflame hatred and violence. Let us not fall prey to short-sighted sanctions but instead stand by our economic and politicalcooperation”. Jose Manuel Barroso also condemned the violence against the EU office in Gaza and embassies in other countries.