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Georgian Orthodox Church Calls for ‘Limits to Freedom of Expression’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Jan.'15 / 19:40

The Georgian Orthodox Church has said in a statement that the state should provide for “limits to freedom of expression” in order to protect rights of believers against “insult of religious feelings.” 

“As cartoons, insulting Muslims’ religious feelings have been recently published again in large number of copies, we reiterate that like lynching and terrorism have no justification no matter of motives, it is also inadmissible and subject of condemnation any kind of insult of Muslims’ or any other religion’s sacred religious [values]. Consequences of such actions may turn disastrous not only for a country, but for entire region and the world and it should be realized well by everyone,” reads Georgian Patriarchate’s statement released on January 17.

“The state is obliged to protect limits to freedom of expression in order to defend internationally recognized other human rights. We also note that the Christian tradition has always entailed peaceful and good neighborly relations with communities of other culture and religion,” the Georgian Orthodox Church said.

The statement reads that “indecent and cynical insult of religious feelings publicly, as well as blasphemy represent subject of criminal punishment in almost all EU-member states.”

At least 14 EU member states maintain criminal blasphemy or religious insult laws, according to the Vienna-based watchdog International Press Institute (IPI), which also reported about growing calls in the EU to repeal these laws following deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

After this attack, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, sent a letter of condolence to French President François Hollande, condemning the terrorist act and saying that “leading democratic states and international organizations should spare no effort for carrying out preventive measures and to make the public more safe.”

In late 2013 the Interior Ministry-proposed draft law was offering adding “insult of religious feelings” clause to the code of administrative offenses, but the proposal was dropped.

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