The foreign ministers of Tunisia and Germany, Rafik Abdul Salam and Guido Westerwelle, have condemned acts which they say go beyond freedom of speech to incite hatred.
In a joint article on the recent anti-Islam film and cartoons, under the title “Freedom is to be used responsibly”, they said that freedom must be used responsibly. “Freedom of opinion is one of the greatest goods in any democracy,” wrote the two ministers. “And precisely because it is so important, it must not be hijacked to spread hatred and fanaticism and touch the terms of co-existence.”
The article was published by Mr Abdul Salam on his Facebook page on Wednesday, and in it he and Mr. Westerwelle wrote: “The Arab spring swept away authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and elsewhere. There is now a chance, one that may never come again, to build a new democratic and pluralistic society on the ruins of the old autocratic system. And that is why the new freedom, which was so hard won, must not be misused or considered an invitation to violence, chaos and the destabilisation of the foundations of stability.”
Pointing out that the revolution began in Tunisia, and that it was from Tunis that it spread like wildfire to other Arab countries, Messrs Abdul Salam and Westerwelle said that if the radical changes set in motion by the “Jasmine Revolution” are completed successfully, there will be “a historic opportunity to transform and improve relations that are based on tolerance, exchange and respect between the civilisations on both sides of the Mediterranean”. The world must not permit radical forces to squander the opportunities inherent in cooperation between us that stem from the massive power of collaboration and our common desire to coexist as nations and peoples, the added. “We all aspire to a world that is based on the values of tolerance and mutual recognition away from all forms of hatred, violence and intolerance.”