Socialist International calls for greater efforts to encourage understanding across cultures

9 February 2006

Encouraging understanding and cooperation between cultures, races and religions in this time of globalisation has become a fundamental necessity to secure a more democratic, a more peaceful and a more humane society everywhere.

The recent publication of images depicting the Prophet Muhammad in some of Europe’s newspapers without regard to the cultural identity, to the sentiments and the beliefs of millions of people around the globe, should not be seen as a way to guarantee personal freedoms in a world that needs more than ever greater understanding and cooperation among peoples, across cultures.

As the world becomes increasingly interdependent, respect and tolerance of each other’s identities, along with the responsible enjoyment of our freedoms, should be always recognised as the basis to advance a more inclusive, a more fair and a more democratic governance, at the local, regional and global level. Disputes and conflicts rooted on cultural, religious and ethnic differences have proven to be the most harmful and destructive, with innocent people among the principal victims.

The Socialist International is today deeply concerned by the intensification and growing polarisation around the issue of the published images and deplores the violence that has emerged. Violence undermines the efforts of the non-violent majority who are striving to achieve greater respect and peaceful coexistence among peoples.

The Socialist International rejects the notion of clashing civilisations endorsed by those few who seek to justify or mask their intentions to achieve political, economic or religious goals through the use of force, divisiveness and cycles of retribution.

The Socialist International calls upon all in the global community and peoples everywhere to make every effort to calm the current situation by promoting an energetic, democratic politics of participation that transform diversity into strength.

The member parties and organisations of the Socialist International, which come from every continent and bring the perspectives of many places, histories and faiths into our movement, are committed to the task, in the face of the forces of division today, to building bridges between peoples of different cultures and faiths, to improve dialogue and mutual respect, and to strengthen tolerance everywhere toward the goal of achieving peace and social justice in the world.