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SP to assess statements made by leader of Latvian Islamic culture centre

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvian Security Police plans to assess the statements made by the head of Latvian Islamic culture centre Imran Oleg Petrov during an interview to LTV regarding breaking fingers of Charlie Hebdo editorial team.

SP has learned of his statements, and they will be properly assessed in accordance with procedures. Depending on results, it will be decided on future action, as confirmed by SP.

SP Anti-Terrorism Centre manager Juris Leitietis had said in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT that Latvia’s Muslim community is very tolerant and well-integrated in society. Nevertheless, there have been certain persons noticed by authorities, whose beliefs can be considered radical and potentially aggressive. SP did not comment if Petrov can be considered that.

Petrov mentioned in his commentary that Islam prohibits killing innocent civilians and that it is stated in Koran – killing one person is the same as killing everyone on the planet.

«However, there is a ‘but’. When we are asked questions about killing innocent civilians, we have a counter-question – why don’t Europe and Western countries admit their double standards in this case. Two million Muslims have been killed in the past 13 years, which is the ‘accomplishment’ of USA, NATO and their allies in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere,» – said Petrov.

As an example, Imran mentioned August of 2014, when Israel’s armed forces, supported by USA, had bombarded Gaza Sector, killing nearly two thousand people, including civilians. He believes the risk of terrorism would decline if the West changed its attitude.

French journalists were killed because they dared to draw caricatures of Allah. Petrov notes that the freedom of speech exists only in theory. «Section 93 of the Criminal Law of Latvia, for example, provides for up to three years in prison for vandalism aimed against the national flag of Latvia or any of its symbols. If someone decides to make fun of things like flag or coat of arms, that person will be put in prison. This means there are limits to the freedom of speech, and if this limit is breached, people are punished. The French caricature artists had openly vandalized sacred treasures of all believers, not just Muslims,» – said Petrov.

The head of Latvian Islamic culture centre believes Charlie Hebdo had deserved to be punished, but in a lesser way. «If they had been hurt physically – had their fingers broken or something else. That would have been enough,» – said Petrov.

When asked if a physical punishment would have been better, he allowed for such a possibility. «Sometimes the point of punishing someone is not solely to punish one person, but to discourage others from doing the same thing. For example, in Islam, if a person steals something not because he has nothing to eat, but because he does not want to work, he is punished by cutting off his hand. On one hand it is very cruel. However, if we look at the effect of it – in an Islamic country where such form of punishment is used, all other thieves immediately stop stealing. Crime levels decline by 90-99%,» – said the head of the centre.

Petrov had expressed his opinion about the tragic events in Paris to multiple mass media channels last week. For example, he allowed for the possibility of the acts of terror in Paris had been a conspiracy, and that the same basic scenario had been employed in Boston.

SP had ambiguously interpreted Petrov’s statements. Authorities believe this should not be considered the official opinion of the entire community.

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