Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 20:12 pm (KSA) 17:12 pm (GMT)

Danish reprint of Prophet cartoon reignites anger

Pakistani students chant slogans during protests in Karachi
Pakistani students chant slogans during protests in Karachi

Danish Muslim preachers sought to soothe Muslim anger on Friday after newspapers reprinted a drawing of the Prophet Mohammad yet again angering Muslims from Denmark to Pakistan.

Danish papers republished one of the drawings of Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday in protest against what they said was a plot to murder the cartoonist who drew it.

Mostafa Chendid, an imam at the Islamic Faith Community, said Danish media had confused freedom of expression with the freedom to insult others.

But he called for all Muslims to "cool down" and "turn "the other cheek," rather than pursue violence, saying this would harm Islam the same way the cartoons had.

"We are trying to dampen the anger," he said at Friday prayers at a mosque in northern Copenhagen.

Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen, a converted Danish Muslim, called for dialogue. "I will take my starting point in some verses in the Quran that call for calm and considered discussions and law-abidingness," he told Danish state radio.

Copenhagen youths riot

Meanwhile in Copenhagen, 23 youths have been arrested so far for setting cars and dumpsters ablaze and throwing stones at police in a fifth night of riots in a predominantly immigrant area of the Danish capital.

"We've had six arrests so far. They've been charged with throwing stones at police and setting fires to cars and waste containers," Chief Inspector Henrik Olesen of the Copenhagen police said.

"We don't know why they're rioting. I think it's because they're bored. Some people say it's because of the cartoons but that's not my opinion," Olesen said.

Muslim reaction

Two-years ago cartoons mocking Prophet Mohammad appeared in a Danish paper sparking mass outrage across the Muslim world on with the reprinting of one of the cartoons Denmark has yet again stirred anger in the Middle East.

The Jeddah-based 'Organization of the Islamic Conference', the world's largest pan-Islamic body with 57 members, warned the reprinting could lead to confrontations between Muslims and Christians.

"By reprinting these cartoons we are heading toward a bigger conflict and that shows that both sides will be hostages of their radicals," OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a Turk, said in Istanbul.

"It is not a way of improving your rights and exercising your freedoms when you use these rights for insulting the most sacred values and symbols of others and inciting hatred," he said. "This is a very wrong, provocative way -- unacceptable."

"The people who are doing this put themselves with the radicals, the fanatics and extremists who are using their beliefs as justification to hurt others," Ihsanoglu said. "This is not the way to improve relations between East and West, between Islam and Christianity."

Kuwait

In Kuwait several MPs on Thursday called for a total boycott of Denmark.

"We must impose a total political and economic boycott of Denmark," said MP Waleed al-Tabtabai during a parliamentary session.

"This is a provocative and insulting act and we must take a strong reaction," Tabtabai said.

Other MPs called on the government to implement a recommendation made by MPs over a year ago to set up a 10-million-dinar (36.5-million-dollar) fund especially to defend the Prophet and Islam around the world.

State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Faisal al-Hajji told the house the foreign ministry would follow up the issue and take appropriate measures.

Gaza

In the Gaza Strip Hamas joined in the condemnation, calling for those responsible to be put on trial.

The Islamist movement Hamas said republishing the cartoon was an "offence to the feelings of tens of millions of Muslims.

"We call for the trial of those responsible for publishing these drawings in the Danish newspapers," it said in a statement, demanding that "official apologies be made" to Muslims.

It also called on Arab and Muslim governments to "use those means of pressure available to them to put an end to the organized campaigns aimed at spreading hatred against Islam in the name of free expression."

Pakistan

In Pakistan chanting up to 50 youths from the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, a right-wing anti-government Islamist party, protested in Karachi.

Grouped outside the Karachi Press Club, the students held up banners reading "We strongly condemn the act of insulting the Prophet by the Denmark Press" and "Prime Minister of Denmark and the Pope should apologise to the Muslim community".

Iran

In Iran peaceful protests were held outside the Danish embassy while Iran summoned Denmark's ambassador to protest against the reprinting of the cartoon.

"The foreign ministry summoned the Danish ambassador following the repetition of the insults to the Prophet and in order to voice an official protest," said the state news agency IRNA, quoting the foreign ministry.

"The foreign ministry... strongly condemned this and urged a serious confrontation against such insults and a prevention of any repetition," the agency added.

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