Minister Says Muslims Can Protest Muhammad Cartoon Contest in 'Civilized Ways'


MAY 06, 2015

Jakarta. Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin has called on the country's Muslims to keep a cool head over a recent Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in the United States.

Speaking on Tuesday, three days after two gunmen were shot and killed after they tried to launch an assault on the Texas event, Lukman said Indonesian Muslims should not be provoked.

"All Muslims should not be overly provoked by the activity and conduct violence," he said, as quoted by state-run news agency Antara. "That is not part of Islamic teaching."

Lukman said that Muslims were at liberty to voice their opinions about the offending contest through public dialogue.

"Muslims can protest in civilized ways because Muslims do not react through brutality or other improper ways," said Lukman.

The minister also urged non-Muslims to understand Islamic teaching forbids representations of the Prophet, and added that the contest was not appropriate.

"Muslims believe they must not visualize their prophets because pictures can never fully capture these figures," Lukman said.

"It's true that we have the right to express ourselves. However, freedom is not limitless.

"Freedom is limited by our responsibility to respect other people."

On Sunday, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-Islamic hate group, organized an exhibition of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that was billed as a free-speech event.

Texas police shot and killed two gunmen who opened fire in front of the event venue. Geert Wilders, a polarizing Dutch politician and anti-Islamic campaigner, was among the invited speakers.