Amid growing Islamophobia, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that insulting Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) does not count as an expression of artistic freedom but a “violation of religious freedom”.
“Insults to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were a violation of the sacred feelings of people who profess Islam,” Putin said
Russian news agency TASS reported that Putin also criticized the publication of blasphemous sketches of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“Such acts gave rise to extremist reprisals. Artistic freedom had its limits and it shouldn’t infringe on other’s freedoms,” he said.
The president stated that Russia had evolved as a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state and so Russians were used to respecting each other’s traditions, according to the report.
“In some other countries, this respect came in short supply,” he said.
Charlie Hebdo had published the blasphemous sketches in 2015, prompting condemnation from Muslims across the world.
The publication had also led to an attack on the magazine’s office on January 7, 2015, in which 12 persons had been killed.
The issue had resurfaced in 2020 when the magazine republished the sketches on September 2 to coincide with the trial of 14 people accused of helping the attackers carry out their gun rampage against the magazine staffers.
A month later, a history teacher in France was beheaded after he had shown the caricatures in his class.
In a ceremony dedicated to the teacher, French President Emmanuel Macron had vowed not to “give up [the] cartoons” and also made contentious remarks against “Islamists”, who he said, “want our future”.
The caricatures were then also projected onto the façade of a building in one city and at protests around the country.
The move and the French president’s remarks had drawn criticism from the Muslim World.