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2.09.2006
  Europe Officially Rescending Freedom Of Speech
The European Union will try to draw up a media code of conduct to avoid a repeat of the furor caused by the publication across Europe of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, an EU commissioner said on Thursday.

In an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph, EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said the charter would encourage the media to show "prudence" when covering religion.

"The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression," he told the newspaper. "We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."

The cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper last September before being reprinted across Europe, sparked a wave of protests around the world.

Newspapers which have published them say they are exercising their right to freedom of speech, while critics say the cartoons are deliberately offensive. Depicting the Prophet Mohammad is prohibited by Islam.

Frattini, a former Italian foreign minister, said millions of Muslims in Europe felt "humiliated" by the cartoons.

His proposed voluntary code would urge the media to respect all religious sensibilities but would not offer privileged status to any one faith.

The code would be drawn up by the European Commission, the EU executive body, and European media outlets, he said. It would not have legal status.

The EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana is to travel to Arab and Muslim countries in an attempt to calm the anger caused by the cartoons.
 
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