UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has denounced a US-made film defaming Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), saying the offensive material abuses the right to freedom of expression.
“All of this freedom of expression should not be abused by individuals,” Ban told a news conference cited by Reuters.
“Some people abuse this freedom. This effort to provoke, to humiliate others by using (religious) beliefs cannot be protected in such a way.”
Titled “Innocence of Muslims”, the movie, produced by an American-Israeli real estate developer, portrays the Prophet as a fool, philanderer and a religious fake.
The film was posted on YouTube in June but drew attention until last week when an Egyptian-American Copt produced a trailer in an Arabic-language blog post and e-mail newsletter publicizing the movie.
The movie was promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, who angered Muslims in 2010 with plans to burn the Noble Qur’an.
Jones called the film a "satirical" movie on the life of the Muslim Prophet, saying he showed a promotional video trailer after staging a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet.
Angry with the film, thousands of Muslims took to the streets worldwide to protest the defamatory movie. At least 10 people were killed in days of protests against the film.
The US ambassador in Libya and three other diplomats were also killed when protestors attacked the US consulate in Benghazi.
A California man convicted of bank fraud was questioned by US authorities investigating possible probation violations stemming from the making of the film. He has denied involvement in the film and has now gone into hiding.
"My position is that freedom of expression, while it is a fundamental right and privilege, should not be abused by such people, by such a disgraceful and shameful act," Ban said.
While insisting that the free speech is an alienable human right, the UN chief said the freedom of expression has limits.
"Freedoms of expression should be and must be guaranteed and protected, when they are used for common justice, common purpose," Ban said.
"When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others' values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way."
He lamented that some individuals tent to use freedom of expression to insult religious sensitivities.
"Now, it is very disgraceful and shameful that still people are provoking the values and beliefs of other people,” he said.
“This must stop.
“It is very important that all people around the world should have due respect and deeper understanding of the values and beliefs and tradition and history of other people and other groups of communities."
Islam strictly prohibits the depiction of the Prophet as blasphemous.
Caricatures deemed insulting in the past have provoked protests and drawn condemnation from officials, preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians.
The UN chief said he strongly criticizes the "senseless" people who "fan the flames of this intolerance and hatred using these kinds of opportunities."