MANAMA, (Reuters) – Some 300 Muslim scholars and clerics will meet in Bahrain on Wednesday to formulate ways to educate the West about the Prophet Mohammad after cartoons of the Prophet sparked outrage in the Muslim world.
In the first meeting of its kind since the furore over the cartoons erupted earlier this year, prominent Muslim leaders including Qatar-based Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi and Saudi Sheikh Salman al-Awdah are also expected to renounce violent protests in which at least 50 people were killed.
European newspapers reprinted the cartoons that were first published in Denmark, citing freedom of expression. Muslims have criticised that reasoning, saying freedom does not extend to insulting religions and religious symbols.
“We believe that the incident was because of ignorance about the Prophet,” said conference spokesman Soliman al-Buthi.
“An economic boycott is one of the ways to combat the ignorance and protest about what has happened, but we need to educate the West about who the Prophet was and to have an open dialogue with the West,” Buthi said.
Many Muslim scholars denounced attacks on foreign embassies in Muslim countries but urged other ways to show anger such as an economic boycott of countries which published the cartoons.
While this two-day “International Conference for Supporting the Prophet” will only include Muslims, organisers say it is a starting point for future interfaith dialogues.
“This meeting is to bring together scholars from around the world to build consensus among our leaders and to look for a peaceful solution as we support our beloved Prophet,” said Ali Jomaa, another conference spokesman.
The two-day conference will be attended by Muslims from around 50 countries. Six scholars from Denmark will attend, including prominent imams Ahmad Abu Laban and Ahmad Akari.