In a Thursday meeting with Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi at the Vatican, the Pope stressed that freedom of expression does not mean insulting religions and religious sanctities.
The spiritual leader of the world’s Catholics has repeatedly expressed discontent with the growing trend of religious desecration in the West, which gained a new momentum in the wake of deadly terrorist attacks in France in early January.
On January 7, the office of French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo came under assault by two gunmen. Some 12 people were killed in the incident, which was claimed by the al-Qaeda branch in Yemen.
A few days later, Charlie Hebdo published a blasphemous cartoon insulting Islam’s most revered figure Prophet Muhammad.
Senior Muslim figures worldwide denounced both the terror assault against Charlie Hebdo and the magazine’s sacrilegious cartoon.
The Pope also condemned the publication of the image, saying, “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”
Iran’s resolve in nuclear talks
Elsewhere in his comments, the Pope voiced support for Iran’s ongoing efforts to secure a comprehensive agreement with the P5+1 states over its nuclear program, saying he stands by the Iranian nation and government.
In January, the Pope expressed hope that an agreement could be reached soon between Iran and the six powers – Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany.
Last December, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani sent a message to the Pope and congratulated him on the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, asking him for more sympathy and cooperation in establishing peace and security across the world.
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