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Islam, terrorism not linked, says top EU official
Web posted at: 4/14/2008 3:47:33
Source ::: The Peninsula

Doha . The European Parliament is highly critical of those who equate Islam
with terrorism, its President said here yesterday.

“I will not accept this and we in the European Parliament do not accept that
Islam and terrorism are identified as the same thing. We don’t believe in
this idea and we reject this idea,” Hans-Gert Pottering (pictured), who is
here on an official visit to Qatar, told a news conference.

He said the European Parliament rejected statements, pictures or
descriptions that identify violence and terrorism with Muslim beliefs.

Referring to the controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam film
Fitna, Pottering said: “I express my opposition to this film and the same
thing with the Danish cartoons.”

“We in Europe are committed to the freedom of the press, on the one hand,
but on the other the media should develop a sort of self responsibility.
They should always know the consequences of what they publish about other
cultures,” he said.

“We should respect others’ beliefs and our relations should be based on
mutual tolerance.”

He commended the opening of a church in Qatar, saying this is something he
understands as tolerance.

Pottering said 2008 is the European Year of Inter-Cultural Dialogue. “I
deeply believe that understanding between the Arab world and Europe is very
important for our common future,” he said.

“There are people who think the clash of civilizations is inevitable. But I
reject this idea very strongly. I believe it is our moral and political
obligation to work for partnership, peace and understanding. ”

During the European Year of Inter-Cultural Dialogue, Pottering and the
European Parliament intend to achieve closer cooperation between cultures,
especially by promoting dialogue with Arab and Muslim countries in an effort
to improve mutual understanding.

This is the first visit by Pottering to a GCC country. Yesterday evening he
delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 8th Doha Forum,
which will deal with international peace and dialogue, democracy, human
rights, free trade, development, and economic and social reforms.

Asked about the prospects of the long awaited free trade agreement between
the EU and the GCC, Pottering said relations with Gulf States are very
important for the EU and a long-standing agreement is needed.

He said the EU Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner,
will visit the region and this will give a boost to negotiations.

“It is my deep wish that trade and economic relations between the GCC and EU
develop in a positive way,” he said.

Cooperation between the EU, Qatar and the GCC, as well as common challenges
and areas of mutual concern, such as the merits of regional integration, the
role Qatar plays in the stability of the Gulf region and in the Middle East
peace process, including the role of Qatar in the Arab Quartet, as well as
the promotion of inter-cultural dialogue were the focus of Pottering’s
meetings with Qatari officials.


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