Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that to insult the Prophet Muhammad is a violation of the freedom of religion, and that it should not be regarded as freedom of speech.
At his annual news conference on Thursday, Putin asked "What are insults against the Prophet Muhammad? Is this creative freedom? I think not. This is a violation of freedom of religion and a violation of the holy feelings of people who profess Islam, and this brings to life other, even more, acute and extremist manifestations."
The Russian president offered the example of the negative feelings that posting portraits of Nazi Germany's dictator Adolf Hitler would result in, stressing that respect must be shown to the memory and legacy of those who fought in World War Two.
"Russia was formed as a multinational and multi-confessional state, and we are used to basically treat[ing] each other's interests and traditions with respect," he said. "This is indeed a very powerful base of existence, a solid basis for the existence of Russia as a multinational state,"
Putin's comments come over a year after another head of state, French President Emmanuel Macron, announced his support for the drawing and publishing of supposed caricatures of the Islamic Prophet, which reignited the fierce debate on whether insulting the Prophet amounts to freedom of speech.
The move was the start of the Macron government's drive to bring Islam under state control in a supposed attempt to "reform" the religion in public life, which led to a condemnation of France and a boycott of French products and companies throughout the Muslim world.