Islam critic Hirsi Ali in fresh attack on Dutch authorities

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch deputy who became a target of Islamic extremists, on Friday hit out at the government of The Netherlands for refusing to pay for her protection in the United States. It was not a question of money, but of principle, she said in an interview published in Friday’s edition of the Danish daily in Jyllands-Posten. “It costs less to pay an American company to protect me than to assure my safety in the Netherlands, because the threat there (the Netherlands) is a lot more real,” she told the paper…

Dutch Islam critic Hirsi Ali declines Danish asylum offer

A former Dutch parliamentarian of Somali origin facing death threats for criticising Islam declined an asylum offer from Denmark on Tuesday, saying she wanted to return to the United States. “I am very touched and thank (Denmark) with all my heart,” said Ayaan Hirsi Ali in an interview with the Jyllands-Posten daily published Tuesday. “But my home and my work are in the United States and I am concentrating now on trying to get funds to ensure my security out there,” she said…

U.N. panel OKs measure on Islam

Islamic countries pushed through a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday urging a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion – a response largely to the furor last year over caricatures published in a Danish newspaper of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The statement proposed by the Organization of Islamic Conference addressed what it called a “campaign” against Muslim minorities and the Islamic religion around the world since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The resolution, which was opposed by a number of other non-Muslim countries, “expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations.” It makes no mention of any other religion besides Islam, but urges countries “to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement and religious hatred, hostility, or violence.” The resolution was adopted by a 24-14 vote with nine abstentions. Canada, Japan and South Korea joined European countries in opposition, primarily citing its excessive focus on Islam and incompatibility with fundamental rights such as the freedoms of speech and thought. “The problem of religious intolerance is worldwide and not limited to certain religions,” said Brigitta Maria Siefker-Eberle of Germany, speaking on behalf of the 27-nation European Union. There are 17 Muslim countries in the 47-nation human rights council. Their alliance with China, Cuba, Russia and most of the African members means they can almost always achieve a majority. Human Rights Watch said the resolution could endanger the basic rights of individuals. The council, which last year replaced the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission, has no power beyond drawing international attention to rights issues and scrutiny of abuses in certain countries. The move at the council was initiated last year after protests across the Islamic world drew attention to caricatures of Muhammad first printed in Danish paper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005.

Popular to Compare Islamism to Nazism

One year after the publication of the caricatures of the prophet Mohammed in the conservative newspaper Jyllands Posten, the critique of Islam has never been so popular in Denmark. In their publication, Karen Jespersen and Ralf Pittelkow describe islamism as a “totalitarian ideologie, mortally dangerous” that they compare to nazism and communism. {(continued below in French)} Un an apr_s la publication des caricatures du proph_te Mahomet dans le quotidien conservateur Jyllands Posten, la critique de l’islam n’a jamais _t_ aussi populaire au Danemark. L’ouvrage qui cartonne actuellement dans les librairies s’intitule Islamistes et na_vistes. Vendu _ 5 000 exemplaires les deux premiers jours, cet essai en est _ sa troisi_me r?_dition. Les deux auteurs, Karen Jespersen et Ralf Pittelkow, y d_crivent l’islamisme comme _une id_ologie totalitaire, mortellement dangereuse_, qu’ils comparent au nazisme et au communisme. Pittelkow met en garde : _Les islamistes et leurs valeurs progressent en Europe, notamment aupr_s des jeunes g_n_rations. Ils essaient d’interf_rer dans la vie des gens, en leur disant comment s’habiller, que penser et que croire._ Les auteurs estiment que l’immigration musulmane est au coeur du probl_me. Mais surtout, ils fustigent l’attitude conciliante d’un groupe qu’ils appellent les _na_vistes_, accus_s d’ignorer la menace islamiste _par souci du politiquement correct et par peur de la r_action des musulmans_, en Europe et _ l’_tranger. Des journalistes, _crivains, universitaires, et m_me des chefs d’entreprise qui, pendant la crise des caricatures, ont choisi de consid_rer la publication des dessins du proph_te comme une provocation, plut_t que de d_fendre la libert_ d’expression. Le r_dacteur en chef de Politiken, T_ger Seidenfaden, en fait partie. Il r_agit : _Il y a une nouvelle orthodoxie : un fondamentalisme de la libert_ d’expression, qui pense que la provocation absolue est n_cessaire sous peine de verser dans l’autocensure._ Or remarque-t-il, _m_me si les gens font d_sormais preuve d’une certaine prudence, cela ne participe absolument pas d’un ph_nom_ne de limitation du d_bat public_ . La preuve : r_cemment, son journal a publi_ une p_tition exigeant que soient poursuivis en justice les propos islamophobes des dirigeants du parti populiste danois, Dansk Folkeparti. _Aussit_t, des voix se sont _lev_es pour mettre en garde contre une limitation de la libert_ d’expression, ce qui ne serait jamais arriv_ avec des propos antis_mites._ Pour l’islamologue J_rgen B_k Simonsen, lui aussi _lev_ au rang des _na_vistes_, l’ouvrage _donne de la substance au discours de la droite populiste_. A ce titre, il juge le parcours des auteurs symbolique. Si Pittelkow a longtemps conseill_ l’ancien Premier ministre social d_mocrate, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, il est aujourd’hui chroniqueur _ Jyllands Posten. Quant _ son _pouse, Karen Jespersen, elle a _t_ ministre des Affaires sociales, puis de l’Int_rieur, avant de claquer la porte du Parti social-d_mocrate en 2004. Ses positions en faveur d’un durcissement de la politique d’immigration l’avaient, _ l’_poque, rendue c_l_bre, notamment sa proposition d’isoler sur une _le d_serte les demandeurs d’asile condamn_s en justice. Critiques. L’ouvrage ne serait-il qu’un nouveau br_lot anti-islamique auquel le Danemark est d_sormais habitu_ ? Le d_put_ Naser Khader, chef de file des musulmans d_mocrates, estime qu’il a le m_rite de poser les bonnes questions. _La menace islamiste existe et il serait ridicule de la minimiser._ Le jour m_me de la sortie du livre de Jespersen et Pittelkow, le 5 septembre, la police lan_ait d’ailleurs un coup de filet, _ Odense, contre un groupe soup_onn_ de pr_parer des actes terroristes. Sept suspects sont, depuis, en d_tention provisoire. Depuis un an, le d_put_ Naser Khader, d’origine syrienne, fait lui-m_me l’objet d’une protection rapproch_e, apr_s avoir re_u plusieurs menaces de mort, pour ses critiques r_p_t_es contre le milieu fondamentaliste danois. Des critiques dont il d_mord d’autant moins qu’il juge _essentiel de ne pas en laisser le monopole _ l’extr_me droite_, en progression constante au Danemark.

Denmark: Half Of Danes See Islam As Incompatible With Democracy: Poll

Nearly half of Danes consider Islam incompatible with democracy, according to a poll published on Monday. The Zapera poll, conducted for Danish think tank Mandag Morgen, showed 48 percent of those surveyed thought Islam was incompatible with democratic values. Thirty-four percent said they saw Islam as consistent with democracy while a further 18 percent said they were undecided. The results were in stark contrast to a poll conducted in February which indicated 51 percent of Danes thought Islamic values sat well with democracy, with 34 percent disagreeing – despite the poll being conducted in the wake of the Mohammed caricature row. The publication of 12 cartoons of the prophet by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005 and subsequently elsewhere, mainly in Europe, led to widespread demonstrations in the Muslim world in February. Muslims consider images of their prophet blasphemous. Much of the Muslim anger targetted Danish interests, culminating in the torching of Danish diplomatic offices in Damascus and Beirut. Monday’s survey canvassed 992 people between August 25 and 28.

Denmark: India, Denmark Agree To Delay Danish Pm’s Visit

A visit to India by Denmark’s leader has been delayed, the Indian foreign ministry, amid reports New Delhi feared the trip could provoke new anti-Danish protests by Muslims. “The two sides have found that the proposed timing for the visit was not optimal,” the ministry said in a statement. “India and Denmark look forward to the visit of the Danish prime minister to India at an early date.” Newspapers said the Danish government had agreed, at New Delhi’s request, to delay Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s visit which the reports said was due to begin April 2. India, the reports said, was worried the controversy surrounding the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed would overshadow the visit. In February, large but peaceful protests were staged in several cities against controversial images of the Prophet Mohammed by Danish cartoonists that sparked anger among Muslims worldwide. The protests created tension in some flashpoint areas of India known for communal violence between Hindus and Muslims. Police blamed the increased temperatures for providing the spark which saw demonstrations against the visit to India of US President George W. Bush in early March degenerate into rioting in the north Indian city of Lucknow, in which four people were killed. The caricatures were first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September and later reprinted in other mainly European dailies. They have sparked protests and riots worldwide that have left dozens of people dead. Muslims consider any depiction of the prophet to be blasphemous. Last month, an Indian Islamic court in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh issued a fatwa, or religious decree, condemning to death the 12 artists who drew the cartoons. A minister in the state government also offered a reward of 11.5 million dollars for the beheading of any of the cartoonists. Muslims make up around 130 million of mainly Hindu India’s billion-plus population.

Denmark: Danish Muslims To Take Cartoon Issue To Human Rights Court

COPENNHAGEN: A network of Danish Muslim organisations will bring Denmark before an international human rights court for not pressing charges against the newspaper that first published the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] cartoons, Danish radio reported on Friday. The 27 Muslim groups said they would file a complaint against Denmark at the human rights court to determine the balance between freedom of speech and freedom of religion, national broadcaster DR reported. It was not immediately clear to which court the group was referring. Denmark’s top prosecutor said on Wednesday that he would not press charges against Jyllands-Posten because the drawings did not violate Denmark’s blasphemy and racist speech laws. Ahmad Akkari, a spokesman for the Muslim network, was not available for comment. The 12 drawings, one of which shows Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon] wearing a turban shaped like a bomb, were published in Jyllands-Posten on Sept 30. The cartoons, which were reprinted in European and American papers in January and February, sparked a wave of protests around the Islamic world. Protesters were killed in some of the most violent demonstrations and several European embassies were attacked. A boycott of Danish goods started in Saudi Arabia on Jan 26 and spread to dozens of Muslim countries.

Denmark: Danish Newspaper Won’t Face Charges Over Cartoons

A Danish newspaper will not face criminal charges over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that prompted international protests by Muslims, the country’s public prosecutor said. The drawings of Muhammad, an article and other cartoons published last September by Jyllands-Posten, Denmark’s biggest broadsheet, were neither “scornful” nor “degrading” of Muslims as a group and the newspaper can’t be prosecuted under the criminal code, Director of Public Prosecutions Henning Fode said in a statement issued yesterday. “The drawings that must be assumed to be pictures of Muhammad depict a religious figure and none of them can be considered to be meant to refer to Muslims in general,” the prosecutor said. There was no basis for assuming that the intention of one of the drawings, which depicted Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb, was “to depict Muslims in general as perpetrators of violence or even as terrorists.” The drawings sparked protests in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia, and a boycott of Danish goods. Fode’s decision reaffirms a Jan. 6 ruling by a prosecutor in the city of Viborg who received a complaint against the newspaper. A number of organizations and individuals appealed the local prosecutor’s ruling, Fode said in the statement. Jyllands-Posten said the cartoons were published as a reaction to comments made by a Danish illustrator, who said he was afraid to draw the prophet for a children’s book as he feared he would become the target of threats by militants. The newspaper apologized for offending Muslims. `Scorn, Mockery, Ridicule’ The cartoons were reprinted by news media in Europe, and in other parts of the world including Egypt. While there’s no basis for prosecution in the case, Fode said, it’s “not a correct description of existing law when the article in Jyllands-Posten states that it is incompatible with the right to freedom of expression to demand a special consideration for religious feelings and that one has to be ready to put up with `scorn, mockery and ridicule’.” The decision can not be appealed further in Denmark, Fode said. Some 27 organizations and individuals appealed the original decision, including the Islamiske Trossamfund, an umbrella group for Muslim associations in Denmark, Copenhagen-based daily Politiken said today. “The lawyers that evaluated the case had no knowledge of Islam and its religious symbols,” Kasem Said Ahmad, a spokesman for the group, told the newspaper. “It’s slipshod,” he said, referring to the DPP’s decision. The groups may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the newspaper reported.

Annan Says Protests Over Cartoons Being Fuelled By Extremists

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said protests over cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad that resulted in violent demonstrations by Muslims around the world are being fuelled by extremism. “Those who shout loudest or act in the most provocative ways, are not necessarily typical of the group on whose behalf they claim to speak,” Annan said yesterday, according to the UN’s Web site. “We must appeal to the majority to speak up and denounce those who disrespect values.” Religious and other leaders must promote discussion between Islamic and Western societies, Annan told a meeting in Qatar of the High-Level Group for the Alliance of Civilizations, a panel he set up last year to bridge gaps between Islam and the West. Protests have taken place in countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia and Turkey since newspapers in Europe earlier this month reprinted cartoons first published in September in Denmark. Any visual depiction of Muhammad is considered blasphemy, according to the teachings of Islam. One of the cartoons depicts Muhammad wearing a bomb in place of a turban. More than 20,000 people attended a rally yesterday in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi, the latest in a series of protests in the country over the cartoons, Agence France-Presse reported. At least five people have been killed in violence during rallies in Pakistan. Pakistan Arrests Police detained several political leaders in Lahore yesterday to prevent a protest march taking place. They included Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the head of a six-party alliance of Islamic groups in Pakistan, and Imran Khan, a former captain of Pakistan’s cricket team, who formed the Movement for Justice Party, AFP said. The 12 cartoons were first published in Denmark’s largest broadsheet, Jyllands-Posten in September. They were reprinted earlier this month in France, Norway, Austria, Germany and other counties sparking Muslim protests. Editors in European countries said they were defending freedom of expression by reprinting the cartoons. Carsten Juste, editor-in-chief at the Aarhus-based Jyllands-Posten, apologized for offending Muslims in a statement on the newspaper’s Web site Jan. 31. Violent protests earlier this month left at least 11 people dead in Libya, 16 people killed in Nigeria and 11 in Afghanistan. “Some of the violent reactions have encouraged extremist groups within European societies, whose agenda is to demonize Muslim immigrants or even expel them,” Annan said, according to the UN. “The republication of the cartoons, and the support for them voiced by some leaders in Europe, have strengthened those in the Muslim world who see Europe, or the West as a whole, as irredeemably hostile to Islam and encourage Muslims to always see themselves as victims.” Left to Extremists Without the efforts of groups such as the High-Level panel, the exchanges between Islam and the West will be left to extremists, Annan said. Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and theologians such as Ismali Serageldin of Egypt and Mehmet Aydin of Turkey are among the members of the panel. Annan two weeks ago called on Muslims to refrain from violence over the cartoons. Muslims should accept the apology given by the Danish newspaper, he said Feb. 5.

Denmark: Danes Apologize for Cartoons Instead of Rasmussen

Danish citizens have apologized on behalf of the nation instead of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen for the insulting cartoons of Prophet Mohammed that were published in the newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. While the Danish prime minister continues to defend the cartoons are a freedom of expression and refuses to offer an apology, Danes set up Internet sites and apologized to Muslims.