A Danish imam is spreading false rumors among the the people responsible for the campaign against Denmark in Jordan, says a foreign ministry envoy in Jordan. The rumors make the campaign people believe that their boycott is having a big effect in Denmark. The campaign people confirm a Danish connection.
The Jordanian group "The Prophet Unites Us", wants Denmark to apologize for reprinting the Muhammad cartoons, and therefore had started up a big campaign to get Jordanians to boycott Danish products. And the campaign people believe that their campaign is working. According to foreign ministry envoy Fathi El-Abed, who visited the campaign people in April, a Danish imam is feeding the campaign with wrong information about how their campaign was working in Denmark.
Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik is the chairman of the committee responsible for "The Prophet Unites Us" and he confirms the committee has a Danish connection.
"Yes, we have sources in Denmark, but they're secret," says Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik to Information.
In April "The Prophet Unites Us" had been running their boycott campaign against Denmark for while, as a response to the reprinting of the Muhammad cartoons in February, and chairman Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik was positive about the campaign's influence in Denmark, says Fathi El-Abed.
He visited Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik in April, when he was on a fact-finding mission for the foreign ministry, who wanted to check how Denmark could strengthen the dialog between Jordan and Denmark in connection with the Muhammad cartoons. "The chairman told me that there were big new, that were all over the Danish media: that Arla [large Danish milk products manufacturer] would go on national TV at 10pm and apologize for the reprinting of the Muhammad cartoons," says Fathi El-Abed, who was very surprised.
"Wait, this is really sensational, I thought, and rushed back to the hotel to follow on the net. It would have caused an earthquake like no other, if Arla would have gone on the 10pm news on TV2 and said: we apologize for the reprinting - buy our products."
But there was no apology from Arla, and when Fathi El-Abed asked the next day, why the story disappeared, Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik told him that the prime minister (Rasmussen) had intervened.
"According to Al-Sheik, Anders Fogh Rasmussen called up Arla's manager and calmed him down, and the prime minister then called up TV2 and prevented them from running the interview where Arla apologizes. I could do nothing more than smile and tell him that something like that could never happen," says Fathi El-Abed, who is also the chairman of the Danish-Palestinian Friendship Association.
Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik said that he got information from a credible source in Denmark, whom he called by the nickname 'Muhammed'.
"I tried to explain to him and the rest of the committee that the story was as probable as seeing a flying elephant, but they continued believing it," says Fathi El-Abed, who thinks that the false story, together with other exaggerated stories about the economic consequences for Danish businesses can make the campaign people believe that the boycott is working. And that Denmark is on the verge of apologizing.
When Information spoke with Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik, he estimated that Danish businesses have lose 3 billion euro the last four months, as a result of the Muhammad crisis, but he added that he doesn't know for sure. According to Dansk Industri, Danish exports to the Middle East are at the same level as before the crisis.
Fathi El-Abed was in Jordan for three days, and every day he met with the committee for "The Prophet Unites Us". Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik has problem with getting the Danish newspapers who had reprinted the Muhammad cartoons translated. He can't find anybody in Jordan who will translate them to Arabic.
"Al-Sheik told me that it was impossible to get a translator, because the Danish embassy had prohibited all translators, from going through them," says Fathi El-Abed, who couldn't convince Al-Sheik otherwise.
The Danish newspaper lie in a thick envelope in Al-Sheik's office, and Fathi El-Abed is convinced that there's a Danish imam who's spreading false stories, and that the imam is the one who sent the envelope.
"I dont' want to name names, since I fear it will start a lynch atmosphere, but I mention it here, because I am annoyed that the false stories worsen the relations between Denmark and the Middle East unnecessarily," says Fathi El-Abed.
When Information called the chairman of the committee for the "Prophet Unites Us", Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik, and asked him if he can remember the story about the prime minister who prevented Arla from apologizing, he exclaimed,
A: The prime minister should not have prevented it. You limit freedom of speech, why do you do that?
Q: Do you still believe that the prime minister prevented Arla from going on Danish TV and apologizing for the reprinting of the Muhmmad cartoons?
A: I'm not certain about that.
Q: But you got this story from your source in Denmark?
A: Yes, we have our sources in Denmark, because we are journalists.
Q: But do you still believe the story?
A: I don't know that, says Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik and smiles, Do you want to work for us?
Q: Yes, I would.
A: So tell me if it's correct.
Q: The story is not correct.
A: We work with Danish media people
Q: Can you tell me who they are?
A: No, unfortunately. As a journalist I can't reveal my sources, says Dr. Zakaria Al-Sheik, who's the editor of of the paper and Internet newspaper factjo.com
Source: Information (Danish)
See also: Denmark: Editor considers showing up in court, Denmark: Muhammad cartoon court case financed by Saudis