Freedom of expression at any price?
Appeal to the Danish people
Freedom of expression and the right to your own opinion are guaranteed in Islam and is one of Islam's most important contributions to the world more than 1400 years ago. Factually it ensures all heavenly revealed religions and denominations and promises humanity the right to think and express oneself freely, as long as those expressions don't cause insult or discrimination of others or rouse hate based on religion or race. One of the worst forms of religious discrimination is ridiculing the prophets and the messengers.
In connection with our continuing efforts to lessen the consequences of the Danish caricatures we have visited Denmark several times. We have seen the Danes as a peace-loving people, who prize coexistence of different cultures, civilizations and religions, and therefore we are now convinced that the reprinting of the insulting cartoons are not typical of the Danish people.
In Muslim perception all prophets, including Moses, Jesus and Muhammed, peace be with them all, are in a special status, which will keep them from insult or ridicule. They should be respect by all people instead of having false accusations directed at them.
We were very surprised with the connection made between charges against several
individual people of wanting to take revenge on one of the cartoonists, and a deliberate insult of Muslim nations deep in their most dearly religious feelings by reprinting the cartoons. We will stress here that Islam condemns all actions which weaken society's security, in particular murder and arson. Factually Muslims still lack a formal dissociation from the reprinting of the insulting cartoons from relevant authorities. We are convinced that a dissociation will contribute to preventing additional repetitions of such unfortunate measures.
Finally, we would like to call on all rational and peace-loving people and economic and cultural organization to to make an effort to the extreme for ensure good cultural and economic relations between people from Denmark and the Muslim world.
The Danish Conservative party sees this ad as mafia-like threats against Danish authorities. They say that the organization is trying to threaten Danish authorities so that they'll condemn the Muhammad cartoons in order to prevent more unfortunate measures.
Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen, who had helped with the phrasing of the ad, thinks it's been misunderstood. He says it's simply people expressing their concern. The whole text and they way they address things should be seen as a a helping hand to attempt to go forward. There's nothing wrong with saying that people lack something.
He says the people responsible for the ad had been in Denmark on a business visit, and they are concerned that the relationship between Denmark and the Arab world are so strained. Therefore they send a signal now that we prefer to extend their hand and look forward.
The advertisement was brought by "The Global Program for Introducing the Prophet of Mercy", an organization of the Muslim World League. Their headquarters are in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and they are responsible for other extensive and expensive projects. The Muslim World League is chiefly financed by Saudi Arabia.
Rivka Yadlin, Islam expert at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says that it's always difficult to find who who gives money to what and how much. She thinks it's not that important whether the money comes from Saudi Arabia, Iran or other Muslim countries in the Middle East, but rather that this is an issue that is getting Muslim countries to agree and to make a combined effort to change the current situation.
When it comes to promoting Muhammad in the West, it's almost inconsequential for countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia how much it costs. These countries are already deeply involved in what is popularly called the clash of civilizations and they see it as a duty to strengthen Islam and Muslim society in the West.
Former Russian defector and Islam expert Evgenii Novikov is considered one of the leading experts in the field, who cover the projects of Muslim countries in the West, especially Europe. He sees many of the so-called projects as an type of investment in advancing radical Islam in Europe.
In Terrorism Monitor he writes that the documents published on the Muslim World League site show that religious leaders from Saudi Arabia focus on Europe as a target for spreading the ideology of the so-called Wahhabi Islam.
"The Global Program" was established due to the religious discrimination Muslims face in the West. In a time where suicide attack and other terrorism acts are justified in the name of Islam the organization tried to change Islam's signature mark and emphasize Muhammed's deeds.
One of the organization's declared goals is to get the whole world to learn about the Muahmmad and get to know his positive, merciful, tolerant and moral character. One of the methods is to produce simple but scholarly information for the world media when the organization feels that Muhammed is being unjustly displayed negatively.
Other methods consist of international conferences focusing on Muhammad's character and creating a database which includes scientific information about the Muslim prophet. Within this effort they will also establish a list of experts qualified to talk about the prophet which will be distributed to the international media.
The organization will also put in money to support satellite channel for non-Muslims and translate the best Arabic books about Muhammad with the aim of distributing them for free among non-Muslims.
Sources: Kristeligt Dagblad, Jyllands-Posten, Snaphanen (Danish), h/t Hodja (Danish)