The case of the Muhammad cartoons, published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten two weeks ago, is escalating into a major conflict between Denmark and the Muslim world. Eleven Muslim ambassadors to Copenhagen, who had protested to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen demanding apologies from the newspaper, decided to take the matter to international Muslim organisations, such as the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
One of the eleven ambassadors is the ambassador of Turkey. She has received full support of the Turkish Foreign Ministry in asking Rasmussen to call Jyllands-Posten to account for “abusing Islam in the name of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression.” According to Muslims it is blasphemy to depict the Prophet Muhammad.
Last week, the ambassadors sent a protest letter to Rasmussen, but the Danish Prime Minister, stressing that Denmark recognized freedom of expression, refused to discuss the matter. On Tuesday the Egyptian ambassador said on Danish television that the group of ambassadors planned to meet Danish politicians to put pressure on the PM, but after a meeting of the group yesterday it was announced that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference would take the matter into its hands. The Organisation, representing 56 member states, has already sent a letter of protest to the Danish government. “Now it is moving up to the international level. Therefore, we will not try to contact Denmark’s political leaders,” the Egyptian ambassador said. She added that also “the Arab League will weigh in soon.”
The fact that Turkey backs the ambassadors is seen by some in Denmark as damaging to the Turkish bid for EU membership. Troels Lund Poulsen, the foreign spokesman of the Liberal Party said that it is important for EU candidate Turkey “to live up to freedom of expression demands.” Last month, however, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that anti-Islamism must be treated as a crime similar to anti-Semitism. Addressing the sixth meeting of the Eurasian Islamic Council meeting in Istanbul on September 5, Erdogan said his government has added an article to the declaration in the European Council regarding Islamophobia stipulating that anti-Islamism be accepted as a crime against humanity.
The Danish cartoons have enraged Muslims as far as Uzbekistan. “This is one of the most frustrating things ever happened to me, not only but all mankind. our beloved Prophet gave so much for us in this world, and we will get so much in hearafter inshallah (Shafat). This some kind of Moron journalists are making fun of finest creature of Allah. Allah has not created anybody holier, or better than our Prophet, (pbuh),” one Muslim writes. And another: “I would choke them to death who ever made these cartoons.” And another: “If i had a power I would execute them in front of the mass. Their hands and legs should be chopped off. Kuffaar!”