Oslo: 1000 taxi drivers protest Muhammed cartoon
This has been a developing story this past week. It seems, though, that despite Abid Q. Raja's 'concerns', it's not the link itself that bothered Muslims.
Earlier this week Abid Q. Raja (Liberal Party) voiced his concern about a link on the PST (Police Security Service) Facebook page to a cartoon portraying Muhammad as a pig writing in the Koran. He said he received phone-calls from Muslims who were deeply and intensely insulted and sad about it. He said he himself, as a very liberal Muslim, feels the cartoon in his heart, spine and soul. He said he thinks it's a scandal the PST did not realize the explosiveness in this cartoon and was afraid that it could cause violence in both Norway and Pakistan.
Abid Q. Raja called on the PST heads and justice minister Knut Storberget to take complete responsibility for it and to apologize that the cartoon was available through the PST site. He said he was afraid of the consequences if they don't, but that he and other liberal Muslims would do everything they could to calm down the community. But, he said, Norwegians shouldn't be naive. "Think when this reaches the closed communities. Think when the mullahs see this. They'll tear out their beards."
He's skeptical about the fact that the PST is active on the site, and yet didn't remove the link. In response, PST said they remove all inappropriate content and whatever breaks their rules.
A thousand Muslim taxi drivers parked their cars in the center of Oslo Friday night, in protest of Dagbladet's printing of the Muhammad cartoon. An ambulance was obstructed as a result of the protest.
A warning was given of the spontaneous demonstration on Friday evening, and the initiators called on taxi drivers to stop their cars from 2AM to 4AM.
At 3AM, close to a thousand taxi drivers followed the request, reported NRK from the center of Oslo.
Rashad Munir, one of the taxi drivers who demonstrated Saturday night, told NTB that taxi drivers with an Islamic affiliation from both Oslo and Akershus participated in the protest, and also drivers who weren't working.
The protested proceeded peacefully and the police were content to call the drivers to ensure free passage for emergency vehicles.
On Wednesday Dagbladet published a caricature of the prophet Muhammad on its front page, as an illustration to a story about the PST linking to the controversial cartoons on its website.
Muslim taxi drivers in the capital responded harshly to the newspaper's reprinting of the cartoon.
"We're reacting to the abuse of freedom of speech. What we're doing isn't any violent planning, but we want to show that we're against our values being abused," says one of the drivers, Rashad Munir to VG Nett.
An ambulance was obstructed by the protest.
Ola Borstad of the ambulance department at the emergency center in Oslo and Akershus said that cars stood in the way and the ambulance couldn't drive as it should have. Instead the ambulance personnel had to drive on a different route. It took a few minutes longer than it otherwise would have, but there was never any danger for the patient's life.
Borstad says that ambulance personnel are familiar with obstructions on the road. Cars parked incorrectly and snow often cause problems, but it's more unusual that such a demonstration would do so.
Sources: VG, Dagbladet (Norwegian)