President Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the deliberate denigration of the religious beliefs of others, warning that freedom of expression should never be construed as licence for actions that may lead to violence and disorder.
Addressing the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, President Jonathan said freedom of expression and religious tolerance should be complimentary for the peaceful coexistence of people of varying faiths and religious beliefs.
Jonathan said: “Events of recent weeks have demonstrated how interconnected our world is and the extent to which one incident can spark off general mayhem and conflagration. Freedom of expression should not be a licence to incitement.
“The freedom that we all hold dear and true should be exercised wisely and cautiously. Freedom of expression and religious tolerance must not be mutually exclusive but should be complimentary.
“Much as we eschew violence and deplore the needless losses of lives and destruction of property, we also condemn the deliberate denigration of religious beliefs and sensitivities, which in turn lead to counter reactions.”
Speaking on the spate of terrorist attacks in the country, the President said his administration has adopted a multifaceted strategy in dealing with the threats of terrorism and militancy.
He said: “Our response has been multifaceted, as we seek to address the root causes of these threats, exploring opportunities for dialogue, improving law enforcement to ensure public safety and security.
“International cooperation has also been a key factor in tackling our security challenges. We have signed agreements with our neighbours, Cameroon, Niger and Chad bilaterally, and multilaterally, on the platform of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.”