January 19, 2006


Despite pressure by various Muslim countries (including Turkey, Bosnia, Egypt, etc.), by international organisations (including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Union) and by some of Denmark’s own ‘sophisticated’ diplomats, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has courageously refused to limit freedom of expression in connection with the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. Though most of the cartoons were far from offensive, Islam forbids depicting the Muslim prophet. So far no other European (or for that matter Western) government has spoken out in support of Rasmussen, but this, too, appears to be changing.

Instead of the Danish government surrendering to Muslim radicals, moderate Danish Muslims are now speaking out against the extremists. A group of Muslims in the Danish city of Århus intend to organize a network of Muslims who do not want to be represented by fundamentalist Danish imams or others who preach the Sharia laws and oppression of women. “There is a large group of Muslims in this city who want to live in a secular society and adhere to the principle that religion is an issue between them and God and not something that should involve society,” said Bünyamin Simsek, a city councillor and one of the organizers. Århus witnessed severe riots after the publication of the cartoons in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten last Autumn.

I think that moderate Muslims are a lot more likely to speak out if they feel confident that the government will stand up to the immoderate ones.

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