CAIRO: European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said in his last press conference in while in Egypt late Tuesday that his visit to Cairo had cleared up many misunderstandings, and his talks with Al-Azhar High Council and the Arab League secretary general were “very good, and productive.
During his visit, Solana met with Al-Azhar high cleric Muhammad Al-Sayyid Tantawi and apologized for the offense caused by the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. In an official statement issued by Al-Azhar, Tantawi said that an apology is not enough; respect for religions must be enforced by law and the publishers of the offensive cartoons must be punished.
According to Solana, EU grants “respect for the [sentiment] of the Islamic countries, particularly the Arab countries and the people of [the] region and the religion that they choose [to follow].
According to Solana, an initiative to impose regulations preventing the insulting of religions and protecting religious beliefs would be discussed. However, the organization calls upon Muslims to stop the bloodshed resulting from the behavior of some radicals.
Solana offered another alternative to the economic boycott of Danish goods. He said that the response to religious and moral attitudes should be “talking to each other, reconstructing the bridges that have been broken. Dialogue is a more effective means of expression, according to the foreign policy chief, suggesting that Muslims in the Middle East and Arab countries should pursue it.
“There is no Islamophobia in Europe, said Solana, who insisted that Muslims there are free to practice their religion and are well represented.
Solana’s statements, however, appear to contradict EU statements issued on the same day. In their statement early Tuesday, the EU had formally given their full support to Denmark, saying that no compromises will be made and no limitations will be set on freedom of expression.
When faced with EU statements, Solana only said that it is the EU’s obligation to support countries that are members of the union. “I cannot speak on behalf of the EU, however, Solana “as a European citizen acknowledges that the caricatures are offensive to Muslims and that Muslim views should be respected.
Responding to American accusations holding Iran and Syria responsible for fueling the anger that lead to the destruction of Danish embassies on their soil, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said, “They are no more than just claims. He went on to say, “I will not even respond to that, adding that the response and the anger are not limited to a few countries but rather extend to the entire Muslim world.
“We refuse violence but demand respect for Muslim beliefs, said Moussa. “We will wait and see what the EU does in terms of religiously sensitive issues; they had promised to respond.
“I think our (the Muslim World’s) message was delivered quite strongly, Moussa noted.
Solana, during his visit, also touched on other issues that “were causing trouble in the region, with Hamas’ success in parliament and Iran’s uranium enrichment program topping the list.
“The Palestinians voted in a very orderly fashion; it is an example to many countries of the region, Solana told the press. However, Hamas has yet to meet many conditions before being recognized, one of which is to recognize and accept the “two states : Israel and Palestine.
“We are waiting to see the situation, on the formation of the government. We would like to see the [peace] process continue, said Solana. “I don’t see Hamas as a government . We support Abu Mazen . Who is also elected by a majority.