Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said Thursday that press should practice freedom of expression by respecting freedom of religion, including the Islamic teaching that does not allow depicting Prophet Muhammad pictorially.

He made the statement in a press release in response to the planned distribution of the latest Charlie Hebdo issue with Prophet Muhammads picture on its cover.

The minister is currently in Saudi Arabia to meet with several Saudi officials dealing with hajj pilgrimage affairs.

He noted that the recent killing of a number of journalists in Paris must be a lesson for all.

The incident must not be responded with actions that will further worsen the situation.

"The emotional reaction in the form of massive power mobilization through the distribution of a caricature on a large scale to show support and sympathy for the media persons killed can produce even harsher reactions," he pointed out.

The minister called on all parties, especially Muslims, to exercise restraint. "No matter how deep our disappointment and anger over the insult to our faith is, we must not take the law into our hands and spread violence that can cause the deaths of others," he remarked.

"The Prophet has shown us how to react through his own experience when he was insulted and degraded by an infidel. He even prayed for the person and did not take revenge, let alone kill the person," he noted.

The minister called for the settlement of any dispute through courts.

"That is the civilized way to act instead of taking the law into our own hands and claiming the lives of fellow human beings," he affirmed.

He appealed to Muslims in Indonesia to not be provoked by unsympathetic actions. "Indonesian Muslims must be able to show that Islamic teachings are about civilizing human beings and not degrading them," he said.

(Reporting by Edy Supriatna Sjafei/Uu.H-YH/INE/KR-BSR/F001)

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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