(zaman.com) - Freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to insult," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.
PM Erdogan delivered a speech at the Assembly as part of a debate regarding a report on freedom of expression and respect for religious beliefs, prepared by rapporteur Sinikka Hurskainen of Finland.
Presenting his joint initiative with Spanish PM JosР№ Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in the "Alliance of Civilisations" project, Erdogan stated the recent cartoon crisis revealed the growing and dangerous polarization of the international community along cultural and religious fault-lines, exploited by extremists. He appealed for a middle ground for respect, tolerance and cultural pluralism, saying "We must mobilize our hopes, not our fears".
Erdogan underlined that the freedom of expression should not be confused with the freedom to insult.
Erdogan also recalled that democracy means tolerance and consensus, as well as freedom of expression, stating that democracy is also an alliance of freedoms.
Also commenting on the growth of xenophobia in the West, Erdogan said that the rise of Islamophobia and xenophobia could create the perception of an attack on the Islamic world, giving rise to an atmosphere of dangerous conflict.