Muslim outrage at reprinting of blasphemous cartoon

Istanbul – (IINA)February 16 – The Organization of the Islamic Conference, which groups 57 Muslim countries, has led the anger of Muslim world over the reprinting of a Danish cartoon insulting Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslims protested in various parts of the world, especially in the Gaza Strip, Pakistan and Denmark against the blasphemous caricature. The protests came after Denmark’s leading newspapers reproduced one of 12 cartoons of Islam’s prophet Wednesday in a gesture of solidarity after police said they uncovered a plot to kill the cartoon’s artist. The drawings, which had sparked deadly riots across the Muslim world in 2006, has triggered fresh uproar in Muslim countries.

“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 told AFP yesterday 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. This is a very wrong, provocative way — unacceptable,” he said. “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,” Prof. Ihsanoglu said. “This is not the way to improve relations between East and West, between Islam and Christianity.”

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The Rabat-based Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) also condemned the re-publishing of the cartoons. In a statement, ISESCO announced its categorical rejection of any kind of offense against the Prophet noting that freedom of expression should not mean intentional defaming of Muslims beliefs and their Prophet.
“The republishing of such drawings will negatively affect the positive integration in the Danish society and harms the relations between Denmark and Islamic world,” the statement said. It called on the Danish government for respecting Muslims feelings, noting that any harm of the feelings of Muslim community in Denmark affects Muslims all over the world.
Pakistan has strongly condemned and expressed distress on reprinting of the blasphemous cartoon. “We are in touch with the Danish authorities on this issue as it hurts the feelings of over one billion Muslims of the world,” Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said in a statement. “We are not against the freedom of expression, but certainly freedom of expression as we have said repeatedly, is not a license to insult other people. We do expect the European Union to put in place some laws that would ensure that there are no such incidents and the Western media should not use freedom of expression to insult feelings of others.” The spokesman said the publishing of such blasphemous cartoon is something that has deeply hurt Muslims.

Meanwhile, thousands of residents in the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas, marched yesterday in the Jebaliya refugee camp chanting: “What Denmark said is heresy.” “It is shameful that Denmark should renew its offense against the prophet,” Hamas official Mushir Al Masri told reporters at the protest. In Pakistan, hundreds of people rallied in various parts of the country, setting fire to Danish flags and demanding the Danish ambassador’s expulsion. And in Denmark, a prominent Danish imam urged rioting youth to stop setting fires and hurling rocks at police.

About 200 students from the International Islamic University in Islamabad vowed to organize a street march next Friday if the government did not accept their demand. “We are even ready to sacrifice our life for our beloved Prophet,” said Mahmood Sadiqui, a student leader. About 200 people held a similar rally in Multan, a main city in the eastern Punjab province, burning Danish flags and chanting “Death to the Cartoonist!” and “Boycott, boycott of European products!”

At two rallies in Pakistan’s biggest city of Karachi, about 150 supporters from radical Islamic parties torched effigies of the Danish prime minister amid calls to boycott Danish products. Mohammad Imran, a student leader from Islami Jamiat Talba, a student organization linked with Pakistan’s largest Islamic political group, Jamaat-e-Islami, called the cartoon “blasphemous.” “We demand the rulers to sever diplomatic ties” with Denmark and Sweden for publishing the cartoons. “The cartoonist and publisher must be hanged.” It was the second protest in Karachi in as many days. Dozens of Islamic students set fire to a Danish flag on Thursday. In Pakistan, blasphemy of Muhammad is considered a serious crime that carries the death sentence.

In Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, about 800 people protested peacefully in a march organized by the Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir. A prominent Danish imam urged rioting youth to stop setting fires and hurling rocks at police after a fifth consecutive night of vandalism there and in other Danish cities. “Please stop what you’re doing,” Imam Mostafa Chendid, the leader of the Islamic Faith Community, said in an address to young people during Friday’s prayer. “The Prophet has not taught you to burn down schools, or burn cars or infrastructure.” Nine youths were arrested overnight Friday in Copenhagen, six of whom faced preliminary charges for throwing rocks at police officers, police said Friday. There were no reports of injuries.