First Published: 2006-02-09

Naguib Mahfouz backs boycott over cartoons

Egypt Nobel laureate says boycott of Danish products in the only option for Muslims to retaliate.


Middle East Online

The world only understands the language of force

CAIRO - Egyptian writer and Nobel literature prize laureate Naguib Mahfouz has said a boycott of Danish products over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed was "the only option" for Muslims to retaliate.

"A boycott may not be the best means of addressing what happened but under the circumstances it's the only option we have. The world only understands the language of force," he told the English-language Al-Ahram Weekly.

A boycott of Danish goods in Muslim countries in reaction to the cartoons, first published in Denmark last September and reprinted in several European newspapers, has been gaining ground, with the European Union threatening retaliatory action against countries involved.

Besides the boycott, Danish and other European diplomatic missions have been attacked in Muslim countries including Syria and Lebanon.

Describing the furore around the images of Mohammed, strictly proscribed by Islam, as "a windfall for extremists", Mahfouz told the state-owned weekly that the "unacceptable mockery of Prophet Mohammed" would drive "some Muslims towards confrontation".

"The best way of addressing Western civilisation is through conflict, extremists will say, fulfilling the prophecy of those who have spoken about the clash of civilisations. That is a terrible conclusion to reach," the 94-year-old author said.

Mahfouz was seriously wounded in a 1994 knife attack by Egyptian Islamist extremists accusing him of blasphemy in his works.


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