After Paris attacks, Pope speaks out against insulting religions

Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:15am EST
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By Philip Pullella

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) - Pope Francis, speaking of last week's deadly attacks by Islamist militants in Paris, has defended freedom of expression, but said it was wrong to provoke others by insulting their religion and that one could "expect" a reaction to such abuse.

"You can't provoke, you can't insult the faith of others, you can't make fun of faith," he told reporters on Thursday, aboard a plane taking him from Sri Lanka to the Philippines to start the second leg off his Asian tour.

Francis, who has condemned the Paris attacks, was asked about the relationship between freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

"I think both freedom of religion and freedom of expression are both fundamental human rights," he said, adding that he was talking specifically about the Paris killings.

"Everyone has not only the freedom and the right but the obligation to say what he thinks for the common good ... we have the right to have this freedom openly without offending," he said.

To illustrate his point, he turned to an aide and said: "It is true that you must not react violently, but although we are good friends if (he) says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch, it's normal.

"You can't make a toy out of the religions of others," he added. "These people provoke and then (something can happen). In freedom of expression there are limits."

Seventeen people, including journalists and police, were killed in three days of violence that began with a shooting attack on the political weekly Charlie Hebdo, known for its satirical attacks on Islam and other religions.   Continued...

Pope Francis gestures as he answers questions from a journalist during the flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Manila in the Philippines January 15, 2015.   REUTERS/ Stefano Rellandin