"The Danish government should do a lot of things. The government should apologize," Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled told reporters Friday at the inauguration of the conference, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
Khaled, who has initiated the one-day meeting, said dialogue and many practical common projects, however, are more important that the apology. "Denmark needs now to build bridges," he added.
Kuwaiti scholar Tareq Suwaidan also backed Khaled's call for an apology from the Danish government. "An official apology is absolutely necessary ... because your government has not dealt with them (Muslims) respectfully," he said.
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has refused to apologize for the publications of the cartoons on claims of freedom of expression and the press.
The meeting is organized by the Danish Institute for International Studies and funded by the Danish foreign ministry. It discusses Muslim-West dialogue, freedom of expression and the status of the Muslim minorities in the West.
Leading among attendees are the head of the Cairo-based Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen and Danish bishop Karsten Nissen.
The cartoons, including one showing the Prophet with a bomb-shaped turban, were first published by Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in September and reprinted by European newspapers on claims of freedom of expression.
That argument has been rejected by Muslims who believe it should not be used as a pretext to insult any religion. The caricatures, considered blasphemous under Islam, have triggered massive and sometimes violent demonstrations across the Muslim world.
"We are aggravated because of the way your government has mishandled this situation," Suwaidan said. (Reuters)
Suwaidan has also criticized the Danish government for mishandling the crisis.
"We are not angry because some of your cartoonists have drawn our beloved Prophet. We are aggravated because of the way your government has mishandled this situation," he said.
He said the Danish government should have followed suit of Norway in apologizing for the printing not just for "offending" the feelings of Muslims.
"If they (the Danish government) had just done that, the problem would not have escalated," he said.
Khaled said they came to Denmark leading a delegation of Muslim youths seeking cooperation with their Danish peers to defuse the crisis.
"We came here to build bridges but it must be two-way bridges," Khaled said.
"We are looking for a moderate Danish partner to ally with and draw attention to the moderate Muslims," he said adding that "this moderate partner unfortunately could not be found."
Khaled also said Muslims supported freedom of expression, but without insulting religions.
Suwaidan reiterated Muslim calls to enact a law banning blasphemy. "Either you have freedom of speech for everyone, including (on issues like) the Holocaust and anti-Semitism or you change the laws to respect religious figures like our Prophet Muhammad," Suwaidan said.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League, the Muslim world's two main political bodies, are seeking a UN resolution, backed by possible sanctions, to protect religions following the publication of the provocative cartoons.
Muslim dignitaries and organizations have also called for the enactment of an international law banning the publication of any insults to religious symbols and values.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16