Al-Azhar, one of the most prominent sunni Islamic institutes of higher learning, has condemned a broadcast on Dutch television that showed cartoons about the Islamic prophet Muhammed. According to the institute located in Egypt the caricatures conceal a “sick fantasy”.
The video was produced by the anti-Islam political party PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid) of Geert Wilders and was showed during the Dutch Broadcasting Time for Political Parties. In a declaration Al-Azhar calls upon Muslims to “ignore this act of terror.” “The stature of the prophet of mercy and humanity is too high and honorable to be damaged by drawings that do not respect moral or decent norms.”
The PVV leader Geert Wilders preceded the video with the words: “The best way to show terrorists that they will never win is by doing that which they are trying to prevent us to do. The cartoons were not shown to provoke but to show that we defend freedom of speech and will never bow to violence. Freedom of speech should always win vis-a-vis violence and terror.”
Following the official launch of the “Muslim Legal Defence League” (“Ligue de défense judiciare des musulmans”) by the former lawyer Karim Achoulai this summer, their first action was announced to be a complaint to be made against the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo for their publication of caricatures depicting the Quran last week.
The objective of the group is to “legally defend individual victims of discrimination based on their associated or actual appearance linked to Islam and their religious belief”. The group aims to legally challenge Islamophobia and aid individuals who have suffered discrimination because of their belief.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls opened the country’s largest Mosque in eastern France, in his first speech to Muslims after the insulting caricatures were released of the Prophet Mohammed. During the opening ceremony of the Great Mosque, Valls praised the wisdom of Muslim leaders, who have called their followers to keep calm following the publication of the caricatures by the Charlie Hebdo Weekly.
“Racism, fundamentalism are not part of Islam,” said the Minister, who also praised the wise and mature stance adopted by French Muslims. The Minister also warned that the government will expel those, who using the name of the Islam, try to attack institutions or cause any type of riots. The inauguration ceremony was attended by local authorities, as well as by representatives of other religions.
The building of the Great Mosque started in 1993 and was partially opened during the holy month of Ramadan in 2011, though it was closed afterwards to conclude the construction work.
France’s Louvre Museum is unveiling a new wing devoted to Islamic art, with the long-gestating project debuting during a period of increased tension with the Muslim community over a French publication’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Louvre’s new addition, which cost nearly 100 million euros (about $127 million Cdn) is its biggest project since the famed Parisian art museum unveiled its I.M. Pei-designed, now-iconic glass pyramid in 1988. The dragonfly-shaped new galleries will showcase a rotating display of artifacts from the Louvre’s collection of Islamic art, which includes pieces dating from as far back as the 7th century.
The museum first opened its Islamic art department in 2003, during the tenure of former French president Jacques Chirac, who urged a “dialogue of cultures” to break down walls between religions. France is home to more than four million Muslims, western Europe’s largest Muslim population.
However, an expansion was necessary because the Louvre did not have enough space to display what has grown to become a vast collection of Islamic art, including treasures donated by King Mohammed VI of Morocco and the foundation of Saudi Prince Waleed Bin Talal.
The French government stepped up security at its embassies across the Muslim world after a French satirical weekly published vulgar caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, inflaming global tensions over a movie insulting to Islam.
The move by the provocative weekly Charlie Hebdo followed days of violent protests from Asia to Africa against the U.S.-produced film Innocence of Muslims and turned France into a potential target of Muslim rage. Up to now, American government sites have drawn the most ire.
The French government ordered embassies and schools abroad to close on Friday, the Muslim holy day, as a precautionary measure in about 20 countries, according to the foreign affairs ministry. It ordered the immediate closure of the French Embassy and the French school in Tunisia, which saw deadly film-related protests at the U.S. Embassy last Friday.
The principle of freedom of expression “must not be infringed,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, speaking on France Inter radio. But he added: “Is it pertinent, intelligent, in this context to pour oil on the fire? The answer is no.”
“This is a disgraceful and hateful, useless and stupid provocation,” said Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Paris Mosque. “We are not Pavlov’s animals to react at each insult.”
Politicians and Muslim leaders have denounced a firebomb attack that destroyed the offices of a satirical French newspaper after it “invited” the Prophet Mohammed as its guest editor. No one was injured in the fire at Charlie Hebdo weekly in eastern Paris, hours before the current issue hit the news-stands. The front-page of the weekly, subtitled “Sharia Hebdo,” a reference to Islamic law, showed a cartoon-like man with a turban, white robe and beard smiling broadly and saying, in an accompanying bubble, “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”
Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council for the Muslim Faith, said his organisation deplored “the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirms with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence.” Dalil Boubakeur, who heads the Great Mosque of Paris, condemned “an act which can in no way represent the principles of liberty, tolerance and peace that are (our) message.” But he regretted the “anxious European climate of Islamophobia” fed in part by stigmatising Muslims through caricatures.
A controversial imam who was deported to Tunisia from Canada in 2007 is in U.S. custody after being discovered in the trunk of a BMW shortly after crossing over from Mexico. Said Jaziri, 43, was one of two illegal aliens apprehended on Jan. 11 just east of San Diego, said Steven Pitts, a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman.
Canada revoked refugee status and deported the Muslim cleric, who encouraged demonstrations in Montreal against the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, after discovering that he had concealed the fact he had served jail time in France for assault.
Awaiting last Friday’s protests against the re-publications of the Muhammad caricatures, Norwegian Media and Muslim representatives worried about aggressive and violent demonstrations. But the demonstration (which attracted in between 2500-3000 persons) is reported to have been calm and orderly. Even so, 24-year old Mohyeldeen Mohammad from Larvik, Norway hinted at the possibility of terror attacks in Norway in a recent speech.
Last week Dagbladet published one of the infamous Muhammad caricatures – this one showing the prophet as a pig – as an illustration to an article on the caricature being used on the secret police’s Facebook page. The publication (shortly after Aftenpostens re-publication of the caricatures) has meet with massive protests and demonstrations in Norway.
Saturday and Monday nights, approximately 1000 cab drivers of Muslim cultural background parked their cars in Oslo in a silent protest against the re-publication.
Norwegian police, as well as representatives of Islamic Council Norway (IRN) and Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) in Oslo is expressing worries about a planned demonstration Friday. The demonstration is being organized on Facebook by Arfan Bhatti, who in 2008 was convicted for an attack on the synagogue in Oslo.
Shoaib Sultan of IRN, just as imam Mehboob ur-Rehman (ICC), advice against the demonstration. Both express worries that it easily could degenerate into a violent protest which would do (even more) damage to the general opinion of Muslims in Norway.
There are currently reports of about 3000 persons joining a supposedly calm demonstration in Oslo.
Someone has published one of the infamous caricatures – this one showing the Prophet Muhammad as a pig – on the Norwegian Secret Police (PST) Facebook page. Trond Hugubakken, spokes person for PST, says this is the act of one individual, not of the PST as such.