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Denmark Invites Muslim Leaders to Talk

The Danish foreign ministry has invited leading Muslim figures for a meeting in Copenhagen within weeks to address the cartoons crisis for the first time since the September publication of the drawings that lampooned Prophet Muhammad.

Denmark Invites Muslim Leaders to Talk

The invitation was sent to Secretary General of the Muslim World League Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alturki before the Manama conference, Politiken quoted as saying Thomas Christensen, head of the Middle East Section at the Danish Foreign Ministry.

He was referring to the two-day International Conference for Defending the Prophet, which wrapped up in the Bahraini capital Thursday, March 23.

Brining together up to 300 Muslim scholars worldwide, the gathering announced the establishment of an international organization and a fund for defending the Prophet.

A similar invitation has been further extended to the Washington-based International Committee for the Support of the Final Prophet (ICSFP).

ICSFP Spokesman Ali Jumaa confirmed that his committee received an invitation from the Danish Foreign Ministry to attend the Copenhagen meeting.

He told Politiken that the committee delegation will group a host of prominent Muslims figures from all over the world.

The Committee was one of the Muslim bodies, which co-championed the Manama conference.

Twelve cartoons, including one showing the Prophet with a bomb-shaped turban, were first published by the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in September and reprinted by European newspapers on claims of freedom of expression

.

The drawings, considered blasphemous under Islam, have triggered massive and sometimes violent demonstrations across the Muslim world

.

Dialogue

Christensen said the Danish government has opted for a constructive dialogue with the Muslim world.

"We wanted to express our keenness on entering into a dialogue with the Muslim world," he was quoted by the daily as saying.

"There are many misconceptions about Denmark in Muslim countries, so it is useful to put our heads together," added the Danish diplomat.

Asked on the issues high on the agenda, Christensen said the economic boycott will be possibly tackled.

The drawings have triggered a massive Muslim economic boycott of Danish products, costing the strong economy of the Scandinavian country hundreds of millions of dollars in less than one month.

Muslim scholars, however, hailed the positive stance taken by Danish dairy company Arla Foods, which strongly condemned the publication of the cartoons.

The paper said the meeting is expected to raise the Danish State Prosecutor's decision not to drop a case filed by Muslims against the Posten.

State Prosecutor Henning Fode argued that the mass-circulation daily did not violate the Danish freedom of expression laws by commissioning and printing the cartoons.

Danish Muslims are planning now to take the publication of cartoons to the United Nations after Fode's snub.

It is the first time that Denmark sends an official invitation to Muslim figures for a dialogue since the spark of the cartoons crisis

.

At the very outset of the standoff, Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen refused to meet a delegation of ambassadors of Muslim countries in Denmark.

Rasmussen has said he regretted the hurt caused to Muslims but refuses to apologize on behalf of the paper.

The editor of Jyllands-Posten has apologized for offending Muslims but defended the paper's right to publish the cartoons.

The Muslim world insists on a clear-cut apology for the "publication" of the odious cartoons and is pressing for a UN resolution criminalizing blasphemy.

Ýslam Online

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