Danish PM meeting with newly discovered 'moderate' (non lethal) Muslims further enrages Islamists who feel ignored
Moderate or Islamist looks like dhimmitude to me
PM Says Denmark Unfairly portrayed as intolerant Canadian Press http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060213/Denmark_Muhammad_060213/20060213?hub=World
Updated: Mon. Feb. 13 2006 4:53 PM ET
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark's prime minister complained Monday that his nation had been unfairly portrayed as intolerant in the international furor over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, and his foreign minister said a government apology would be pointless.
After meeting with a newly formed network of moderate Muslims, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for peaceful dialogue to defuse Denmark's biggest international crisis since World War II.
"This meeting just testifies that the Danish government wants a positive dialogue with all groups in the Danish society," he said. "The way forward is peaceful."
However, critics said the network did not represent Denmark's estimated 200,000 Muslims and warned the prime minister could be heightening tensions by not reaching out to radical groups.
Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller told The Associated Press the government had no reason to apologize for the drawings first published in one of Denmark's largest newspapers.
"First, you cannot apologize for something you have not done," Per Stig Moeller said in a telephone interview. "Second, nothing illegal has been done because no one has been found guilty by a court."
Protests against the cartoons continued, with Pakistani police firing tear gas on thousands of student protesters, Egyptian demonstrators calling for a boycott of European countries and hundreds of Palestinian schoolchildren trampling on a Danish flag.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said the conflict had united moderate and radical Muslims "because this hurts the sentiments of every Muslim."
The Danish government has resisted pressure to accept any responsibility for the cartoons — one of which depicts the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb — saying it has no say over the media.
Islam widely holds that representations of Muhammad are banned for fear they could lead to idolatry.
Fogh Rasmussen insisted that Denmark respects all religions and had been misrepresented in the Muslim world.
"We have seen distribution of false pictures, false stories, false rumors of Denmark," he told reporters in Copenhagen.
"We have seen Denmark portrayed as a closed and intolerant society," he added. "The truth is the opposite. Denmark is an open and tolerant society."
He did not give examples of misinformation, but earlier criticized a group of Danish Islamic leaders who went on a Middle East tour in December.
Leaders of the group, claiming to represent 27 Muslim organizations, said they sought support in countries including Egypt, Syria and Lebanon because they felt their voices were not being heard in Denmark.
The group carried a dossier with purported examples of images offensive to Islam, including photocopies of the 12 Muhammad cartoons and three additional images — two offensive drawings of the prophet and a copy of an AP photograph that had nothing to do with the controversy.
That photograph, showing a bearded man wearing fake pig ears and a pig nose, was from a pig-squealing contest in France in August and had no connection with Islam or the Prophet Muhammad caricatures.
Group leaders have said they received copies of the three images in threatening letters and rejected that their group was responsible for fueling anti-Western anger in the Middle East.
In Egypt, thousands of students demonstrated Monday at universities in Cairo and the southern city of Assiut, denouncing the caricatures and warning that those who published the drawings "have opened the gates of hell on themselves."
Anti-riot police stood at the gates of the two universities but did not intervene.
"Revolution everywhere! We are not going to be silent or asleep!" chanted about 1,500 male students demonstrating in Cairo. "Boycott is our duty because they insulted and humiliated our prophet!"
Hundreds of Palestinian schoolchildren, some as young as 4, stomped on a Danish flag and shouted anti-Danish slogans in a protest organized by a school affiliated with the Islamic militant group Hamas in the West Bank.
In Denmark, critics said the premier's meeting with a network of moderate Muslims led by Syrian-born lawmaker Naser Khader risked escalating the situation by making radical groups feel left out.
"The government is setting up two poles," Tanvir Ahmad, who leads another Muslim grouping, was quoted as saying by the Politiken newspaper.
Khader, however, said it was high time for moderate Muslims voices to be heard.
"We are Muslim, Danish and democratic," he said. "Unfortunately it's the extremists who have set the agenda. What is happening now is an overreaction".
Timeline of caricatures confrontation
The chain of events:
Sept 30: Jyllands Posten publishes 12 drawings of the prophet. Several of them associate Islam with terrorism and suicide bombings. One shows Mohammed wearing a turban in the shape of a bomb with a burning fuse.
October: First street protests over the images in Denmark. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen refuses to meet a group of ambassadors from 11 Islamic countries who wish to complain about the pictures.
November: The Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant also publishes the cartoons.
Dec 29: Arab League foreign ministers condemn the publication.
Jan 10: Magazinet, a small Christian paper in Norway, publishes the images citing press freedom.
Jan 26: Saudi Arabia withdraws its ambassador from Denmark.
Jan 30: Jyllands Posten apologizes to Muslims for any offence but defends its right to publish.
Feb 1-3: Newspapers in several other European countries publish some or all of the cartoons, citing freedom of expression. The French newspaper France Soir also runs its own drawing on its front page.
Feb 4: Furious crowds in the Syrian capital Damascus attack the Danish and Norwegian embassies, setting them alight.
Feb 5: One person is killed and 50 injured as a crowd burns down the Danish embassy in the Lebanese capital Beirut. The Iraqi transport ministry freezes contracts with Denmark and Norway, and an insurgent group, the Islamic Army in Iraq, urges Muslims to attack Danes and Danish interests, including Danish troops.
Feb 6: At least three people are killed during protests in Afghanistan and demonstrations in Somalia leave at least one dead. Other protests are held in Algeria, Egypt, Indian-held Kashmir, Indonesia, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories and Thailand.
Iran says it will no longer trade with Denmark. Protesters attack the Danish and Austrian embassies in Tehran. Iran's largest selling newspaper, Hamshahri, says it will hold a contest for cartoons on the Holocaust of Jews during World War II.
Denmark advises its nationals to avoid Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. Danish tour operators cancel all trips to Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.
Feb 7: More protests in Islamic countries, and other countries with large Muslim populations, while US President George W. Bush assures Rasmussen of his "support and solidarity".
Russian President Vladimir Putin urges editors to "think 100 times" before publishing such pictures, but German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the controversy may be exploited to incite unrest in Muslim countries.
At least four more people die in anti-cartoon riots in Afghanistan, and in Tehran protesters attack the Danish and Norwegian embassies.
The United Nations, the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference express alarm and urge dialogue and restraint.
Feb 8: Danish members of a peace-monitoring team pull out of the West Bank city of Hebron for fear of reprisals.
The satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo prints all 12 original cartoons. French President Jacques Chirac accuses newspapers of "provocation".
Two Yemeni weeklies are suspended for reprinting the cartoons.
Bush urges governments to quell the response but warns the media over its "responsibility". US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accuses Syria and Iran of inciting violence.
Feb 9: Indonesia cancels a friendly badminton match against Denmark because of security concerns.
The Malaysian government shuts a local newspaper for publishing the cartoons while in Indonesia, police charge the editor of a weekly tabloid with blasphemy for reprinting them.
The radical Islamic Palestinian group Hamas offers to seek to calm anger among Muslims but tells the West to "change its attitudes".
The culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, Flemming Rose, is sent on holiday for an indefinite period by his boss.
Feb 10: Police in Egypt fire tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators, injuring 30. In Nairobi, police fire tear gas at flag-burning protesters. There are protests across Asia after Friday prayers, including Malaysia, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, as well as in Turkey.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi blames Western nations for a "huge chasm" between the West and Islam.
A leading Iranian cleric praises Muslim "holy rage" while the radical group Islamic Jihad threatens to "burn the ground" beneath anyone who makes a future "attack" on the prophet.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he regrets the offence caused, but insists nothing justifies the violent backlash.
Denmark's ambassador to Damascus leaves Syria because protection has been reduced to an "unacceptably low level," its foreign ministry says.
Feb 11: Denmark's ambassadors to Iran and Indonesia also leave because of threats against them.