Cameron rebuts pope on speech offensive to religion

British Prime Minister David Cameron defended the right to speech that gives offense to others` religious beliefs, in a rebuttal to Pope Francis who said there should be limits.

AFP| Updated: Jan 18, 2015, 23:26 PM IST

Washington: British Prime Minister David Cameron defended the right to speech that gives offense to others` religious beliefs, in a rebuttal to Pope Francis who said there should be limits.

In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS`s Face the Nation, Cameron said the West must show that its values, like free speech, are stronger than those of Islamist extremists pursuing a "poisonous death cult narrative."

"I think in a free society, there is a right to cause offense about someone`s religion. I`m a Christian. If someone says something offensive about Jesus, I might find that offensive but in a free society I don`t have a right to wreak my vengeance upon them," Cameron said.

"We have to accept that newspapers, magazines can publish things that are offensive to some as long as it`s within the law," he said.

Cameron, who was interviewed after his meeting here Friday with US President Barack Obama, was responding to the pope`s comments suggesting that religion should be off limits.

"There are limits," the pope said in Manila Thursday, weighing in on a debate set off in the wake of a deadly attack on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that have angered many in the Muslim world.

Twelve people, including some of France`s best known cartoonists, were killed January 7 by two gunmen who stormed its office. In all, 17 people were killed in three days of related attacks in Paris.

"You cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people`s faith, you cannot mock it," the pontiff said.

"Freedom of speech is a right and a duty that must be displayed without offending."

Charlie Hebdo`s new editor in chief, meanwhile, defended the caricatures in an interview with NBC`s "Meet the Press."

"Every time we draw a cartoon of Mohammed, every time we draw a cartoon of prophets, every time we draw a cartoon of God, we defend the freedom of religion," the editor Gerard Biard.

"Yes, it`s also the freedom of speech, but it`s the freedom of religion. Religion should not be a political argument."

"If God becomes entangled in politics, then democracy is in danger," Biard added.