The Appeal of Conscience Foundation (ACF) is concerned about the Danish cartoon controversy. We strongly believe and urge that great sensitivity be exercised where the expression of religious symbols or traditions are concerned. We also believe profoundly that freedom of speech and religious freedom are unassailable rights, as sanctioned by the UN Declaration of the Rights of Man. The right of freedom of speech in societies and cultures also, however, carries an inherent responsibility and should not be used as a platform to degrade or insult any group or individual. Peaceful coexistence requires a climate of mutual respect and the promotion of human dignity among people and nations.
While we condemn the extremist violence shown over this controversy, it is clearly necessary to distinguish between those Muslims who feel that they have cause for offense and those who have burned down embassies and issued death threats and embargoes.
The Appeal of Conscience Foundation calls on religious leaders to take a stand against further escalation of this discord, which radical elements are using to fan their desire for conflict and confrontation. In the spirit of the Peace and Tolerance II Conference, co-sponsored by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew I and the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, and in cooperation with the Turkish Government, recently held in Istanbul, we will convene a meeting of Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders for a dialogue on ways to deal with manifestations that are affronts to different religious groups. The ACF was instrumental in sponsoring Resolution 55-254 for the Protection of Religious Sites at the United Nations General Assembly in 2001.
The Appeal of Conscience Foundation has been working for religious freedom, tolerance and peaceful coexistence—encouraging respect for human dignity toward members of differing religions and discouraging all acts of incitement that may endanger the safety and security of ethnic and minority groups—for more than forty years, in the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina, Central and South East Europe, Central Asia, the Caucasus, China, Argentina and Cuba.