'Build bridges between West, Muslim societies'

ABU DHABI — Killing of Muslims in Denmark would have spurred less of an emotional reaction from the Muslim world than the publishing of cartoons that ridiculed Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), a well-known Islamic scholar opined here yesterday.

By Anjana Sankar

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Published: Thu 2 Mar 2006, 10:23 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:24 PM

"If the Danish newspaper had preferred to kill a few Muslims, it wouldn't have hurt the Muslim sentiments as deeply as it did by publishing the cartoons," Shaikh Habib Ali Zain Al Abideen Al Jifri said in his lecture at the Zayed University.

Citing anecdotes from the Holy Quran to highlight the respect and reverence Muslims attach to their Prophet, Shaikh Al Jifri did not mince words to point out that some people did go too far while expressing their resentment over the issue.

"Killing innocent people and burning embassies are legally forbidden in Islam. But we have the means within the confines of our Shariah to mark our protest. By crossing boundaries, we are giving credibility to the ideas of the publishers of the cartoons," he remarked, adding that there should be no fear on the part of Muslims to criticise such transgressions on the part of fellow Muslims.

According to him, the basic issue underlining the cartoon controversy is about striking a reconciliation between the West's ideal of freedom of expression and Muslim's respect for sacred religious symbols.

"The Danish cartoons elicited such strong emotional reaction from the Muslims not because we have no respect for freedom of expression but rather our strong belief in the same that is based on respect for others," Shaikh Al Jifri said. Shaikh Al Jifri would be heading to Copenhagen next week to address members of the Danish community as part of the efforts to build bridges between the West and the Muslim societies.

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