Denmark: Muslims to turn to EU Court

Danish Muslims are planning to take Denmark's Jyllands-Posten daily to Europe's highest human rights court over the publication of satirical drawings of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).

"[Danish] Muslim organizations intend to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights," Muslim leader Mohammed Khalid Samha told on Friday, June 20.

The move comes a day after a Danish court rejected a suit by seven Muslim groups against newspaper editors for publishing the offensive cartoons.

"We were quite sure that the Danish judiciary would not be fair to Muslims," said Samha.

The High Court for western Denmark based in Aarhus upheld a court ruling that the Jyllands-Posten editors had not meant to depict Muslims as criminals or terrorists by publishing the cartoons.

It said although one of the cartoons, which depicts a man said to be the Prophet with a bomb in his turban, could have been seen as a representation of the Prophet as a violent man, the cartoon did not break the law.

"It is a known fact that acts of terror have been carried out in the name of Islam and it is not illegal to make satire out of this relationship," the court said.

Thursday's ruling was the fourth by Danish courts to reject legal charges against the daily.

In September 2005, Jyllands-Posten commissioned and printed 12 cartoons including portrayals of the Prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban and another showing him as a knife-wielding nomad flanked by shrouded women.

The drawings, considered blasphemous under Islam, have triggered massive and sometimes violent demonstrations across the Muslim world and strained the Muslim-West ties.

Denmark's main dailies reprinted last February one of the lampooning cartoons.


Danish Muslim leaders described the court ruling as "disappointing".

"We regret this ruling," Mohammed Namah, media secretary for the Muslim Scandinavian Endowment, told IOL.

"This verdict reaffirms the feeling of many Danish Muslims that they are being threatened, insulted and targeted," added Samha, the Muslim leader.

Bilal Assaad, Chairman of the Islamic Faith Society, one of several plaintiffs, also lamented the court ruling.

"I can't say I'm surprised by the decision, but I'm disappointed," Assaad told Reuters.

"We had hoped that we could put this unfortunate matter behind us and that the High Court would draw the line that establishes the limits of freedom of expression in religious matters."

Denmark has a Muslim minority of nearly 200,000 out of its 5.4 million population.

Following the cartoons crisis, Muslims in Denmark and worldwide took many initiatives to remove widely circulated stereotypes about Islam in the West.

Danish Muslims established the European Committee for Honoring the Prophet, a grouping of 27 Danish Muslim organizations, to raise awareness about the merits and characteristics of the Prophet.

Source: Islam Online (English)

See also: Denmark: Jyllands-Posten acquitted, Muslims considering next step, Denmark: Muhammad cartoon court case financed by Saudis

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some more info on the plaintiff Mohammed Khalid Samha (aka Abu Bashar) on Wikipedia:

Mohamad Al-Khaled Samha (Arabic: محمد الخالد سمحة‎) (b. 1958, Syria) is a Danish imam more commonly known as Abu Bashar[1].

Samha started an Islamic information and advice center in his home in Vollsmose, Odense.[1]

Samha worked together with Christian priests to put up a display on religions in the municipality building[1]. He also participated in a conference between Christian and Muslim leaders in Denmark[2]

Samha worked as prison imam at state prison in Nyborg until he was fired in July 2006. According to sources at the prison he called for Jihad in his Friday sermon.[3] Answering to the story in the Folketing, Justice minister Lene Espersen said he was fired due to cutbacks at the prison.[4]

Samha was one of the imams who traveled to the Middle East with the Akkari-Laban dossier during the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. He was part of the first delegation of imams which went to Egypt December 3–December 11, 2005.

Samha knew the Vollsmose terrorists, who lived in his area, though he mentioned in interviews he knew them only as neighbors[5][6] After their arrest, he confirmed for news reporters that the suspects were Muslim.

Youssef Mohamad El Hajdib, one of the suspects arrested in the 2006 German train bombing, had Samha's phone number saved on his phone.[7] Samha denied knowing El Hajdib and said that many young men have his phone number.