First Published: 2006-03-23

 
Qaradawi: Prophet cartoons is war waged against us
 

Muslim scholars gather to defend Prophet Mohammed after row over his depiction in cartoons in European papers.

 

Middle East Online

By Lamia Radi - MANAMA

'The Islamic nation has the right to rise in defence of its prophet'

Some 300 Muslim religious figures opened a two-day conference in Bahrain Wednesday in support of the Prophet Mohammed following the row over his depiction in cartoons in European papers.

The scholars, preachers, heads of Islamic associations as well as Arab and Muslim community leaders from Europe will explore a strategy aimed at preventing a repeat of the crisis sparked by the publication of the cartoons.

The gathering opened with an address by its chairman, influential Egyptian-born cleric Sheikh Yussef al-Qaradawi, whose International Union of Muslim Ulema (religious scholars) is one of the conference's organizers.

"It's a war that has been waged against us for no other reason but to insult Islam," said the hardline cleric who has opposed dialogue with Denmark before it issues an official apology for the cartoons.

"The Islamic nation has the right to rise in defence of its prophet."

The 12 drawings of Islam's Prophet, first published in Denmark in September and reprinted elsewhere since, provoked violent protests across the Muslim world where they were condemned as blasphemous.

They also triggered a boycott of Danish products in Muslim countries.

Muslims must work to improve the image of the prophet who is regarded in the West as "a man who goes after young girls to put in his harem," said Qaradawi, referring to Mohammed's polygamy.

One of the gathering's other organisers, popular Saudi cleric Sheikh Salman al-Odah, commended the boycott and said Muslims must now think of ways to reduce their dependence on the West.

"We want to transform this anger into a productive force," he said.

The meeting comes the day after Britain's Prince Charles criticised the cartoons furore and appealed to religious leaders to foster common values in a speech at Cairo's Al-Azhar university, the oldest seat of Sunni learning.

"Highest among those values of our common inheritance, and born of our love of God, must always come respect for each other, and for His creation," the heir to Britain's throne said.

"The recent ghastly strife and anger over the Danish cartoons shows the danger that comes of our failure to listen and to respect what is precious and sacred to others," he said.

The Manama gathering is expected to debate "the roots of Western views of Islam" and the "greatness and sacred status of the Prophet."

Deliberations will go on until Thursday evening, when participants will announce a series of "recommendations" for an international campaign to defend Islam and its Prophet.

The participants include popular London-based Egyptian television preacher Amr Khaled, criticised by many Muslim scholars for attending a conference of Christian and Muslim experts in Copenhagen earlier this month despite Denmark's refusal to apologize for the cartoons.

The Manama conference is meant to remind the world that the cartoons issue is still alive, conference spokesman Sheikh Adel al-Muawda told AFP.

"We want to show those who hurt us that the Muslims have not forgotten, and will never forget, the offense caused to them," he said.

"We also want to educate Muslims about ways of securing their rights while avoiding negative practices," such as the violent cartoon protests," he said.

"The ulema attending the conference will underline that sharia (Islamic law) bans such practices."

The participants have set ambitious goals such as "regulating relations between Islam and the West" and "unifying the Muslims' positions on religious issues."

Qaradawi has opened a bank account to receive donations from Muslims to fund a website to defend the Prophet.

Six imams from Denmark, where the controversy originated, will attend the conference.

But the sheikh of Egypt's Al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, will not attend due to "prior engagements."

"O faithful, don't betray the Prophet," said placards announcing the conference in the streets of Manama.

 

Calm reigns over Gaza amid celebrations

US rules out coordination with Syria on targeting jihadists

UN moves to impose sanctions on Libya militias

Algeria president sacks Belkhadem

Saudi Arabia could earn $8.5 billion from Mecca pilgrimage

Mother of US hostage to leader of Islamic State: Please spare my son

Turkey ruling party officially approves Davutoglu as new PM

US spy agencies face difficult task in Syria

Saudi Arabia jails 18 militants on terror charges

Gazans breathe sigh of relief

Litany of horrors becomes regular fixture in jihadist-held Syria

Iraq forces mass for onslaught on jihadist siege of Amerli

Doha offers help to rebuild Gaza

Iran alters Arak heavy water reactor over Western worries

New Turkey PM leaves successor troubled legacy

Palestinians ‘reach’ long-term Gaza truce with Israel

Barzani: Iran provided us with weapons

US to track jihadists in Syria with spy planes

Top Iran official in Saudi to repair strained ties

Drums of war are beating anew on Capitol Hill

Israel air raid in Gaza kills two Palestinians

Deadly bus tragedy in Egypt

Car bomb rips through Baghdad intersection

Shebab flee Somalia strategic town in latest advance of African troops

South Sudan warring leaders sign fresh ceasefire deal

Who’s funding extremists? Qatar struggles to clean up tarnished image

Abadi calls on militias to come under Iraq state control

Nile dam row at heart of talks in Sudan

Ansar Sharia calls for jihadist unity in Libya

No let-up in Gaza war as Egypt raises new truce proposal

Thousands march in support of Yemen President’s call for national unity

Syria reaches out to former foes in fight against ‘terrorism’

Libya parliament names new army chief

Egypt warns only disarmament could spare Libya from intervention

Egypt offers new Gaza ceasefire

Iran to Israel: we will arm Palestinians

American held hostage for 22 months in Syria freed

Iraq calls for global support in fighting jihadists

Iran bolsters arsenal with new drones and missiles

Arab ministers discuss ‘rise of extremism’ in Saudi Arabia

In Jordan, students stay home as teachers strike

Iran ‘shoots down’ Israel drone near Natanz nuclear site

Netanyahu vows to maintain Israel offensive in Gaza ‘as long as necessary’

Libya neighbours meet in Egypt amid serious concerns

Zarif meets Ashton in September to discuss framework for renewed talks