Innocence of Muslims, the anti-Islam film that has provoked a wave of violent protests across the Muslim world, has been criticised by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a new interview on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight.
The film — which portrays the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester, and killer — has triggered a number of attacks on embassies belonging to the US, UK, France, and Germany. While speaking out against the protests that had turned violent, Ahmadinejad told host Piers Morgan that the film represented an “abuse of freedom”:
“Fundamentally, first of all, any action that is provocative, offends the religious thoughts and feelings of any people, we condemn. Likewise, we condemn any type of extremism. Of course, what took place was ugly. Offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly. This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech. This is the weakness of and the abuse of freedom, and in many places it is a crime. It shouldn’t take place, and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy.”
Yet Ahmadinejad also insisted that protests over the film should remain peaceful and added that deaths caused by the protests over the film — a likely reference to the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three U.S. embassy staff — were unacceptable:
“We also believe that [these differences] must be resolved in a humane atmosphere, in a participatory environment, and we do not like anyone losing their lives or being killed for any reason, anywhere in the world.”
When Ahmadinejad was asked by Morgan whether he believed demonstrators should cease threatening US staff abroad, he replied:
“Perhaps if the politicians take a better position in the West vis-a-vis offensive words or thoughts or pictures towards what we hold holy, I think conditions will improve.”