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Islamic Conference to Address Cartoon Controversy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London Asharq Al-Awsat- Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the Qatar University Sunni Research Center and head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, has announced that a comprehensive Islamic conference will convene in Bahrain on Tuesday 14 March 2006 to discuss the consequences of the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet, (PBUH) and the effective methods to prevent a repetition of the slander of prophets , Divine religions, so that the world would live in love and peace.

In a telephone interview with him by Asharq al-Awsat, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi said: “Many of the Islamic organizations and societies will participate in this conference, including the International Union of Muslim Scholars, the International Campaign to Support Islam, the Permanent Committee to Defend the Seal of the Prophets, and the Pakistani Jama’at-e-Islami, in addition to Muslim intellectuals and scholars from allover the world. This conference aims at showing the Islamic anger, but in a rational and balanced form to deter from attacking the sacred religious issues and the idolatry beliefs, and to prevent slander of God’s messengers and prophets.”

“We have not started this battle; it is a battle that surprised us, as there was no tension between the Muslims and Denmark. In my opinion, this battle has no justifications. The Danish newspaper, which printed the cartoons insulting the Prophet, God’s prayer and peace be upon him, asked some cartoonists to draw imaginary pictures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, God’s best prayer and peace be upon him; I learned that some of these cartoonists delayed responding to the request of the newspaper, but at the insistence of newspaper’s officials some of the cartoonists responded, and these cartoons were published. The cartoons angered the Islamic nation and made it rise to express its anger and denunciation of the insult to the nation’s honorable Prophet. In the Beginning the Muslims asked the newspaper and the Danish Government to apologize for this severe insult and unjustified provocation to the feelings of 1.3 billion Muslims. However, the Danish Government and the newspaper concerned refused to apologize, and thus the anger of the Muslims in the four corners of the world was inflamed. Moreover, a delegation of the Islamic countries’ ambassadors to Copenhagen asked to meet the Danish prime minister to convey their protest over the publication of these cartoons that insulted the Muslims, but the prime minister refused to meet the delegation. All this happened on the pretext of the freedom of expression; Denmark stirred up this problem and initiated this precedent of insulting the Muslims on the pretext of the freedom of expression. We did not do anything other than expressing our anger, because the Islamic nation was hit in its most sacred issue. We asked the Islamic nation to show a rational and balanced anger, without burning embassies, consulates, and churches, and without destroying private properties, such as cars and shops.” Sheikh Al-Qaradawi added.

It is noteworthy that the newspaper published two apologies in its Internet websites.

Dr Al-Qaradawi stressed that the nation’s scholars and Sheikhs – through their pulpits, speeches, talks, and statements – wanted the Islamic nation everywhere to express its denunciation of these Danish cartoons that insulted the seal of the prophets and messengers. Therefore, the denunciation came from all Muslims; even the non-practicing Muslims denounced that deed.

Dr Al-Qaradawi pointed out that the scholars called on the nation to boycott the Danish goods, “We urged the peoples to use the weapon of boycott, because the Muslim Governments are bound by commercial contracts and agreements. We know that there are legal obligations that bind the governments with regard to the boycott, but these legal restrictions do no bind the peoples if they wanted to boycott the Danish goods in denunciation of these cartoons that insulted God’s Messenger, God’s prayer and peace be upon him. We called on the international community to criminalize the slander of the prophets, and to criminalize the slander of the Divine religions and the idolatry beliefs, because we call for a world that lives in security, peace, and tolerance.”

Dr Al-Qaradawi explained: “We reject the duplicity of the western criteria with regard to the freedom of expression. Denmark refused to apologize for these cartoons that insulted the Muslims on the pretext of the freedom of expression, while British historian David Irving was sentenced to three years imprisonment in Austria on charges of denying the Jewish Holocaust. This case clearly exposes the duplicity of the western criteria related to the freedom of expression. The publication of the cartoons insulting God’s Messenger, God’s prayer and peace be upon him, was considered a part of the freedom of expression, despite the fact that these cartoons violated the beliefs of 1.3 billion Muslims in the world.”

Dr Al-Qaradawi said: “The Danish Government sent me a delegation to discuss the issue of the consequences of the cartoons, but I refused to meet this delegation, because I do not want to block the way of the Islamic nation for the benefit of Denmark, as we want to stand by the Muslim institutions in expressing denunciation of these cartoons.”

Dr Al-Qaradawi added that three weeks ago the Islamic caller, Amr Khalid, contacted him for consultation over the wish of some brothers in Denmark to calm down this issue. Sheikh Al-Qaradawi said: “I told him that the nations need stimulants to wake them up from stagnation, and what happened has been a motive for the nation that has been torn by disputes, but united by the love for God’s Messenger, God’s prayer and peace be upon him. I gave him a number of advices, including not to block the way of the Islamic nation for the benefit of Denmark.”

Dr Al-Qaradawi added: “I was surprised to see that he (Amr Khalid) prepared for a conference in Denmark aimed at calming down the Muslim anger and their denunciation of the Danish cartoons that insulted their Prophet. Amr Khalid mentioned that a number of scholars would participate in this conference, but when we contacted some of them they said that they did not know anything about this conference.”

Dr Al-Qaradawi called for the Muslim denunciation of these cartoons to be balanced and rational: We all are committed to two issues; the first is the unity of the Islamic nation, “And hold fast, all together, by the rope, which God stretches out for you, and be not divided among yourselves (Koran verse),” because the Hand of God is with the united group; and the second is emphasizing the importance of unity, because unity is strength. This is what the Manama conference will express on 14 March 2006.