The Presidium of the Interreligious Council in Russia strongly condemns any encroachment on the religious feelings of believers expressed in presenting their shrines and doctrine in an offensive light.
The dispiriting examples of this kind include the publication of anti-Islamic caricatures in the Danish press, the defilement of the memory of millions of victims of the Holocaust through a caricature festival, the publication of books deliberately abusing the Holy Scriptures of traditional religions, the so-called TV talk shows giving room to the expressions of extreme, extremist and xenophobic views including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Rusophobia provoking discord and hatred on ethnic and religious grounds, the conduct of the ‘Beware of Religion!’ exhibition which gave place to open defilement, the abuse of Orthodox icons at the exhibition in Manezh, etc.
These actions are regarded by all the members of the Interreligious Council in Russia as provocations aiming to bring division in society, to push people of various religions to hostile attitude among brothers.
The implementation of the principle of the freedom of the press and creative expression cannot justify disrespect for the religious feelings of believers and abuse of their shrines. Any abuse of these freedoms and cultivation of the spirit of intolerance can lead our society to discord and strife and can provoke acts of violence similar to the attack on the synagogue in Bolshaya Bronnaya Street in Moscow.
Representatives of traditional religions in Russia are unanimous in their desire to preserve peace and accord in society and prevent the attempts to damage the interreligious relations whoever may commit them.
We call upon all, first of all, the mass media leaders and journalists, researchers and people of art and culture, public leaders and statesmen to restrain from any manifestation of disrespect for the religious feelings which have lied in the spiritual foundation of people’s life for centuries, for great is the price that the whole world including us and our children may pay for it.
February 13, 2006