Pope says 'cannot insult' other people's religion

Published: January 15, 2015
Pope Francis speaks to the press aboard a plane during his trip to the Philippines on January 15, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Pope Francis speaks to the press aboard a plane during his trip to the Philippines on January 15, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA: Pope Francis on Thursday condemned any killing in God’s name, but also insisted there were limits to freedom of speech and said other people’s religion could not be insulted or mocked.

The pope made the comments in relation to attacks by gunmen on the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo last week in which 12 people died.

“To kill in the name of God is an absurdity,” the pope told reporters aboard a plane travelling from Sri Lanka to the Philippines.

But the 78-year-old pontiff also said “each religion has its dignity” and “there are limits”.

“You cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people’s faith, you cannot mock it,” the pontiff said.

“Freedom of speech is a right and a duty that must be displayed without offending.”

The Charlie Hebdo assault on January 7 was followed two days later by an attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris by a gunman claiming to have coordinated his actions with the two brothers who attacked the magazine.

In all, 17 people died over three days in the bloodiest attacks in France in half a century, which ended when commando units stormed two hostage sieges and killed all three gunmen.

The brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, attacked the Charlie Hebdo staff because they were outraged over the magazine’s repeated depictions of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

Al Qaeda then claimed it directed the men to carry out the killings, saying it was “vengeance” for the magazine’s cartoons of the prophet.

The magazine this week published a “survivors” issue featuring an image of the prophet, which sold out Wednesday before more copies of an eventual print run of five million hit newsstands.

The cartoon depicts the prophet holding a sign reading “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), the slogan that has become a global rallying cry for those expressing sympathy for the victims and support for freedom of speech.

The cover of the new Charlie Hebdo has sparked fresh controversy and protests in some parts of the Muslim world.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • Lion King
    Jan 15, 2015 - 7:13PM

    Hats off to him


  • Saeed
    Jan 15, 2015 - 8:08PM

    He is right, both sides are wrong in their actions.


  • raider
    Jan 15, 2015 - 8:17PM

    this is actually peoples want instead freedom of disgrace of others s’ relogion


  • Ahmed
    Jan 15, 2015 - 8:28PM

    A much-awaited shut-up call !! Ironically, NYtimes and BBC haven’t yet shared this news on their social media pages, just website article. They know their loud-mouth beasts would get hurt by the pontiff. Hats off Mr. Pope and thanks a lot.


  • Ahmed
    Jan 15, 2015 - 8:29PM

    If a friend “says a swear word against my mother, then a punch awaits him,” Francis said.
    “It’s normal, it’s normal,” he said of such a response. “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.”


  • woody
    Jan 15, 2015 - 8:48PM

    Kudos to the Pope. Charlie Hebdo poor taste isn’t limited to Muslims and the Pope/Catholics and Jews get their fair share of abuse by this newspaper. Fortunately – they don’t slaughter writers who offend them.


  • Citizen26
    Jan 15, 2015 - 8:55PM

    Agree with you respected Pope


  • Jan 15, 2015 - 9:45PM

    Pakistani christian are against such acts and condemn, Christianity is a religion of peace and we are not allowed to insult others religion.


  • Waseem
    Jan 15, 2015 - 9:48PM

    It was long due statement. Thank you! and they (so called freedom lovers) should expect lash back if disrespected.


  • Bano
    Jan 15, 2015 - 9:53PM

    Absolutely well said Mr. Pope. You are respected. And where are the muslim ulemas of the world? Oh wait, the so called aalims, they are conducting shows giving away free kids and cell phones.


  • Parvez
    Jan 15, 2015 - 11:01PM

    Salute ……… your wisdom.


  • Ahmed
    Jan 15, 2015 - 11:10PM

    Full speech and video.

    BBC and NYTimes and even CNN haven’t yet shared anything on their social media pages. How shameful is that. They enjoy posting anything against muslims but when Pope gives a punch on their faces, they go hiding.


  • Zakria Zubair
    Jan 15, 2015 - 11:58PM

    That awkward moment when more Muslims agree with the Pope than Christians.


  • Sid
    Jan 16, 2015 - 1:11AM

    His comment does not validate that anyone should resort to violence if few people goes over board and resort to verbal or pictorial offense. To kill them or physically harm them is far more gross then their abuse of freedom of speech.
    This goes for most of the commenters above who are so over zealously welcoming this speech. Please note that violence and killing is still not justified period. And also Pope does not speak for rest of the world or on behalf of Christian community. He is giving his personal opinion. In the end TO KILL SOMEONE FOR THEIR ACT OF INDECENCY IS WRONG.


  • nkhan
    Jan 16, 2015 - 1:13AM

    Wow…. This is called “Leadership”… I hope pope voice would be fall under the “Freedom of Speech Fighters”


  • a
    Jan 16, 2015 - 1:15AM

    Thank you Sir, much respect for you. Ithink its time we differentiated b/w european atheists snd Christian belivers. Atheists are friends of nobody. They’ll mock and ridicule your faith no matter which religion you follow


  • Hindu
    Jan 16, 2015 - 4:03AM

    A welcome statement indeed. Now as all of you are agreeing not to insult other religion, it’s time to revise all these school text books which insult Hindus in and out. It’s a two way road my friends.


  • Chachoo
    Jan 16, 2015 - 4:31AM

    It is a complex topic indeed and difficult at the same time. We as a Muslim want to be respected but it seems we have a free check to disrespect anyone’s belief system. For example It is pretty normal in Pakistan to make fun of other religions.
    So when we are demanding respect from others then we should give respect to everyone at the same time as well. We are sharing Pope’s statement in our defense but Who will define the limits for us when we disrespect the other religions and call them fake, unoriginal and out rightly reject their existence ?Recommend

  • Astraldust
    Jan 16, 2015 - 8:06AM

    “‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”  
    -Recent quote from a person who shall remain unnamed.


  • Rohit Sen (Singapore)
    Jan 16, 2015 - 8:42AM

    The limits on freedom of expression is something a civil society could debate. Religious leaders would have their own perspective. Some people would believe that the freedom is absolute. Others would disagree and hopefully there would be either a common ground or people would agree to disagree.

    But to kill to silence people who one does not agree with – that’s absolutely wrong and barbaric. one of the Indian leader used the word “backlash”. Since he was from congress, I wanted to ask him if Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination was in backlash to Lanka policy? Was Mumbai blast backlash to post Babri masjid demolition riots? Were godhra riots backlash to death of karsevaks? If anyone even suggests APS massacre was a backlash.. To me that person is not a human being!


  • Prada
    Jan 16, 2015 - 8:53AM

    Agreed Mr.Pope. What we don’t agree on is the massacre that followed. Muslims have the right to protest but not murder. That is barbarism. And that is what the entire world rejects. I don’t support the cartoons.


  • Dajjal
    Jan 16, 2015 - 9:05AM

    So are any of these limits to the freedom of speech/expression applicable to religion? They make quite interesting claims about what will become of non believers, does that now constitute hate speech and provoking the beliefs of non believers? Or should respect only be given to the Religious because they are “Special” and extremely sensitive?


  • Toba Alu
    Jan 16, 2015 - 9:08AM

    Double standards. Non-believers are daily mocked and insulted by superstitious people. Some not only mock, but threaten us with death. Others are carrying out this sentence. Some of those praising the pope, still think he is an infidel and should be killed. Don’t fool us, we know exactly what some of you are believing in, you don’t need scholars for that.


  • Babur
    Jan 16, 2015 - 9:16AM

    let the wisdom come through…………slaves of “freedom of speech”


  • Aysha M
    Jan 16, 2015 - 9:24AM

    Respectfully, too little, hopefully not too late. Vatican should be more visible and more vocal to harness the madness and malaise unleashed in France, this is by no means suggest that the reaction is to be condoned.


  • Jan 16, 2015 - 9:33AM



  • hassan
    Jan 16, 2015 - 9:39AM

    @christian in pakistan:
    My Pakistani brother thanks … we are also against all violence against your community


  • Syed Humza
    Jan 16, 2015 - 9:46AM

    It’s ironic how people seem to be commending Pope, however if the same would’ve been said by a Muslim Scholar, the comments would be different like :”Shut up Mullah!”, “Ban these fundamentalists” etc. #WestApologists


  • rukhsar
    Jan 16, 2015 - 10:08AM

    Pop thank you… please preach it to your flowers too.


  • Jan 16, 2015 - 10:48AM

    Bene Venuto Pope Francis. Thank you, Sir. Times have changed and countries are in a political and militant turmoil. Recommend

  • the eddy
    Jan 16, 2015 - 10:54AM

    At least the Pope rejects hate spewed against Islam , but what do Pakistanis do about other religions . They continue to remind about that Christianity brought Dark Age to Europe , or Hinduism & its caste-problem , but remain on the defensive when such hate is spewed against Islam . Why such double-standards are shown by Pakistani Liberals.



  • Ahmed
    Jan 16, 2015 - 11:49AM

    @the eddy
    May be you should be reminded of how malwaris and khatrees treated minorities for a long period of time and even now. How kashmiri muslims are treated, how muslims in Gujrat were massacred and the list goes on for the untouchables for Hindus in India. There are 2 billion muslims around the world, and most of them are believers. How many of them killed non-muslims? Millions of muslims are living with non-muslims in countries like India, USA, EU etc. You will find more Indians than arabs in the middleeast now. If muslims are terrorists why malwaris go for work there? Hypocrisy? How many of them have been killed? Don’t put the blame of few nuts on an entire religion or population just like you do not want to be called a Hindutva terrorist because of Modi’s or other RSS’s terrorists’ actions. Period.

    @Sid. Who is condoning the killing of cartoonists. Stop being a twisted imposter.


  • Toba Alu
    Jan 16, 2015 - 12:52PM

    Regret ET cannot publish my exposure of clear double standards without insulting.


  • Appan
    Jan 16, 2015 - 9:55PM

    Pope’s speech is welcome. There are some magazines in India which routinely ridicule Hindu Gods and use objecionalble language. But we choose to ignore them as otherwise it would give unwanted publicity. Tolerance to criticism is the name of the game. if criticism of certain practices which are not in consonance with changed circumstances is taken in the right spirit and corrective action taken wherever required is good for any religion. Such criticism shall ideally come from within the same religion so that it will have a better impact


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