Toon row: Danish imams accused of stoking fire
The clerics were accused of touring Middle East and showing more offensive cartoons than those published by the Danish daily.india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 20:14 IST
While Muslims in Britain are planning a civil march at the weekend to protest against the Danish cartoons, the Danish media and Government have accused a group of Danish imams of stoking up the "cartoon wars" by touring the Middle East with a dossier to seek international support for their protest.
The clerics, whose trip was organised by Imam Abu Laban, of the Islamic Belief Society, were accused of showing more offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad than those published by the daily Jyllands-Posten, including one of Muhammad looking like a pig and another of him having sex with a dog.
Although Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons last September, the furore arose after the imams' tour in December and last month.
As the row escalated, Danes blamed their Muslim minority for fuelling the furore. Newspapers in almost 30 countries have now printed the original pictures of Muhammad, one of which shows him wearing a bomb-shaped turban.
The Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has accused the imams of "double speak" in telling Arab media not to buy Danish goods, while insisting in the Danish media that they do not support the boycott.
Rasmussen said, "Some people are speaking with two tongues. The Government watches the news circulated in Arabic countries very carefully so we can catch these false stories and correct them immediately."
The Government said on Wednesday that it would exclude the imams from talks on integrating ethnic minorities.
Rikke Hvilshoj, the Integration Minister, said, "I think we have a clear picture today that it's not the imams we should be placing our trust in if we want integration in Denmark to work."
Out of a population of 5.4 million, Denmark has 180,000 Muslims.
Resentment of Muslims has seen a rise of support for the far-right Danish People's Party (DPP), which has described Islam as a terrorist religion and has said that it is an inferior civilisation.
Rasmussen's Government relies on the support of the DPP, whose leader, Pia Kjaersgaard, wrote in a newsletter this week, "The seeds of weeds have come to Denmark - Islamists and liars - who have fuelled the lethal fire through their tour of the Middle East. We will deal with them."