Indonesia Joins Choir of Critics of Danish Mohammed Drawings

Controversy that has erupted in the wake of the publication of 12 drawings of the prophet Mohammed in Denmark continues to increase and the list of Muslim nations who oppose the cartoon drawings and the lack of an official governmental apology, now include Indonesia, the largest Muslim country on the planet. Newspapers in Indonesia have begun to cover the issue, which has already sparked reactions from the country’s traditionally more moderate Muslims.
The General Secretary of the Indonesian Council of Muslim Scholars, Mr. Ichwan Sam, called the whole situation a case of “western arrogance”.
“This insult against a religious symbol of another group of people demonstrates their foolishness and stupidity,” the General Secretary told the state-owned news agency Antara on Wednesday.

Peace of Government Level
In a meeting with Indonesia’s Vice President in Jakarta Wednesday, Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation, Mrs. Ulla Tornaes, brought up the issue, although she is currently in the country to inspect the post-tsunami rebuilding efforts.
“In light of the development of this case I chose to discuss the matter with the Vice President and to inform him of the Danish government’s attitude toward this,” Mrs. Ulla Tornaes said after the meeting.
“The Vice President is satisfied with the statements made by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. According to the Vice President, this is not a controversy here in Indonesia,” the Danish minister affirmed.

Freedom of Speech vs. Respect of Religion
In late September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten (the Jutland Post) published 12 supposedly humoristic cartoon drawings of Mohammed as a contribution to the national debate about Muslim extremists’ abuse of the Koran for violent and suppressive purposes. The act quickly sparked angry reactions from Danish Muslims, but for months it remained a national debate, throughout which the Danish government denied any responsibility for any newspaper’s content and refused to reprimand the newspaper in respect of the laws of freedom of speech.
As of last week, however – after a delegation of Muslim priests from Denmark had traveled through the Middle Eastern region to gather support from their peers – the debate has turned into a world-wide diplomatic crises involving Europe and the Arab world. Danish products have been boycotted for more than a week, and Danish flags as well as pictures of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen are being burned daily by the demonstrating mobs in places like Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.
Meanwhile, other European countries are joining the debate about whether or not the freedom of speech will be compromised if Europe’s Muslims continue to gain political leverage.

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