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News in English 15.02.2008 kl. 00:00

Muslim reactions to Mohammed reprint

Imams in Copenhagen mosques voice their concerns about this week's turbulence

Over a thousand Muslims, young and old, were gathered today for Friday prayers at the mosque on Dortheavej in Copenhagen's Nordvest district.

After a week of riots, reprints of Mohammed cartoons and the arrest and deportation of men suspected of planning to kill one of the cartoonists, there was plenty to talk about as cleric Mostafa Chendid began the prayers.

Chendid pointed that the media had a large role to play in recent events.

'We work continuously towards integration but are always met with resistance by the media,' he said.

He questioned the necessity of reprinting the caricature of Mohammed wearing a bomb in his turban in response to the foiled plot to assassinate Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist.

Despite being critical of the reprinted cartoon and the subsequent deportations, he urged the Muslim community to remain calm stating that they should continue 'building bridges'.

There was also a word of chastise directed at the young: 'Mohammed did not teach you to burn schools, cars and public buildings. He taught you to behave in a civilised manner.'

Imam Abdul Wahid Petersen preaching for a gathering in the Nørrebro district, was also concerned about the reprinted drawings and hoped that the act of solidarity by Danish newspapers would not have the same global repercussions of two years ago.

The crisis in 2006 had led to huge reactions in many Muslim countries and resulted in the boycott of Danish goods, such as dairy products by Arla Foods which had had a prominent presence in the Middle East.

'The Danish media have not understood that it is important to have impartial grounds in any debate,' he said. 'It is not impartial to spit your opponent in the face.'

He also pointed out that it was problematic that the two Tunisians charged of planning to assassinate the cartoonist, were to be deported without legal intervention.

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