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Putin backs idea of urging countries to pass laws to protect sentiments of believers

Russian President Vladimir Putin (photo by AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his support for a proposal by a leading mufti from the country’s North Caucasus region to call on other United Nations (UN) member states to pass laws protecting the feelings of religious believers.

“We need to think about it. It is indeed a good initiative and I don’t understand how anyone would oppose banning actions that insult the feelings of religious believers,” Putin said during an online meeting with religious leaders on Wednesday.

The Russian president said he would order the country’s Foreign Ministry to consider the matter.

The initiative was put forward by Chairman of the North Caucasus Muslim Coordination Center Ismail Berdiyev, who cited Russia’s own law protecting the feelings of religious believers.

Russia has been enforcing that law since 2013. A blasphemy law that came into force in July also allows for prison sentences of up to three years for those who offend Russian citizens’ religious feelings.

The development comes as French President Emanuel Macron’s back-to-back insults against Islam and Islamic sanctities over the past several months have outraged the roughly two billion Muslims in the world.

In September, Macron defended the right to blasphemy in France after French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo republished sacrilegious cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). On October 2, Macron claimed in a speech that Islam was “in crisis globally” and announced his plan “to reform Islam” to supposedly make the faith more in line with French values.

Later, Macron supported a French teacher’s displaying of cartoons insulting the Prophet (PBUH) in his class. “France will never renounce caricatures,” Macron declared, defending the teacher for “promoting freedom.”

Macron’s comments have angered not only the Muslim community in France but all Islamic nations and groups, leading to protests and calls for boycott of French products.

Islamophobia has been a common practice of some European leaders and extremist groups in recent years in the wake of terrorist attacks in the continent by sympathizers or members of the Takfiri Daesh group.

Muslim leaders in Europe and around the world have reiterated their unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attacks.

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