DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday that Muslims should accept the apologies offered over the published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and act with “calm and dignity.”
“I understand and share their anguish. But it cannot justify violence, least of all attacks on innocent people,” Annan said during a U.N. environment conference, where he was awarded the $500,000 Zayed International Prize for the Environment.
The U.N. chief also urged religious and secular leaders to intensify the dialogue between faiths and communities.
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“Once again, I appeal to Muslims to accept the apology that has been offered, and to act as I am sure Almighty God, who is compassionate and merciful, would wish them to do,” Annan said. “That is, to act with calm and dignity, to forgive the wrong they have suffered, and to seek peace rather than conflict.”
Annan spoke at what has been described as the largest-ever gathering of national environment ministers, with about 125 discussing matters ranging from sustainable energy to ecotourism.
The environmental prize awarded to Annan, named after longtime Emirates leader Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who died last year, is the world’s most lucrative grant restricted to environmental achievements. Annan was awarded the prize in December for backing U.N. summits and reports on environmental issues.
The 9th Special Session of the United Nations Environment Program’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum is expected to lure participants from 150 countries, including the presidents of Gambia and Switzerland.