Putin Says Insulting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Is Not ‘Freedom of Expression’

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has slammed those who insult Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) under the guise of “artistic expression.”

On Thursday during his annual news conference, Putin said that while he generally respects “freedom of expression”, negative remarks about the prophet are a “violation of religious freedom and the violation of the sacred feelings of people who profess Islam,” later citing the Charlie Hebdo attack as an example of the consequences.

Back in 2015, extremists armed with rifles took to the editorial offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and killed 12 people including journalists and police officers. The motive behind the attack was revenge because the outlet had published disrespectful cartoons of the prophet.

Four men were later charged for the murders.

Using this example, the Russian President emphasised that it gives extremists more fuel to want to act out on behalf of their beliefs, so trying to avoid purposefully antagonising remarks is best. According to Russian News Agency, Tass, he also slammed those who repost pictures of Nazis online on sites such as Immortal Regiment, which is a long-standing tribute to Russian soldiers that fought in World War II.

For a lot of Muslims, this is one of the first times a prominent, Western leader has spoken in favour of respecting their beliefs. It comes as Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, had previously called out extremists in the West for constantly disrespecting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

“Let me make clear to people here & abroad: Our govt only took action against TLP under our anti-terrorist law when they challenged the writ of the state and used street violence & attacking [sic] the public & law enforcers. No one can be above the law and the Constitution,” he said in his first direct statement on the matter earlier this year.

He also criticised those who use Islamophobia and slurs “under the guise of freedom of speech” to hurt millions of Muslims across the globe.