British PM disagrees with Pope: There is a right to cause offense

British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses a joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House January 16, 2015.(Photo: Reuters)

David Cameron begs to differ with Pope Francis regarding the limits to the right to freedom of expression.

In an interview with CBS' Face the Nation programme, the British prime minister said that "in a free society, there is a right to cause offense about someone's religion."

"I'm a Christian," Cameron added. "If someone says something offensive about Jesus, I might find that offensive, but in a free society I don't have a right to wreak my vengeance upon them.

"We have to accept that newspapers, magazines can publish things that are offensive to some as long as it's within the law."

His views are in contrast to those of the Pope in statement last Thursday.  

In response to a question regarding the Charlie Hebdo shootings that claimed 12 lives, the Catholic Church's leader asserted that though nothing could justify the attack and that the satirical publication may have gone too far in its mockery of Islam, saying that "there is a limit to free speech."

"One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith," the Pope said.

To make his point more clearly, the 78-year-old pontiff said that if a friend were to say "a swear word against my mother, he's going to get a punch in the nose. That's normal."

Regarding the threat of terrorism posed by ISIS, which Cameron described as based on a "poisonous death cult narrative ... the perversion of one of the world's major religions," the prime minister talked about the strategy Western countries are employing to put a stop to the "large-scale killings, injuries, and destruction" the Islamist extremist group is wreaking in Iraq and Syria.

Cameron said, "If we take the issue of Islamist extremist terrorism coming out of Iraq and Syria, it is going to take a very long time to deal with this.

"We cannot do this on our own as Western countries. We need functioning government in Iraq, functioning government in Syria, to be the legitimate authorities that, with us, help to stand back this perversion of the Islamic religion."

"I think the secretary‑general of the UN put it very well when he said a missile can kill a terrorist, but it is only good governance that can kill terrorism," the prime minister concluded.