American Muslim Leaders Meet with Danish Ambassador to help combat defamation from Danish media

February 7, 2006

In a united effort, through a meeting coordinated by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, representatives of national Muslim organizations working to combat defamation from Danish media met with Friis Arne Peterson, Ambassador of Denmark to the United States. The representatives expressed concerns about damaged relations with Muslim communities and offered contributions for prospective solutions, including an end to the violent demonstrations.

MPAC National Director Ahmed Younis began the discussion by discounting the constructed debate of a clash between western free speech norms and Islamic tradition by pointing to rich tradition in classical Islamic thought for the preservation of the mind and the right to free expression.

"The response of the Danish government seems to yield to the fallacious notion that there is some clash of civilizations," said Younis. "The integration of Muslim minority communities in the west is the fulcrum of proving that Huntington was flat wrong and the American Muslim community is leading this effort."

Much can be done short of stifling free speech to show that the weight of responsible and powerful elements of Danish society will not tolerate the proliferation of this and similar hate propaganda in a continent that has witnessed the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia. European tradition has outlawed speech that has defamed state religion, such as the Anglican Church in England, and has also outlawed speech denying the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide.

Ambassador Peterson rearticulated the statements of Prime Minister and stressed the respect and amicable relationship Denmark has historically had with Muslim nations around the world.

American Muslim leaders voiced their concern at the response of the Danish government to the numerous insightful defamatory publications. The leaders collectively rearticulated their unequivocal condemnation of all violence in response to these defamations against the Prophet Muhammad.

"The current escalation of this situation could have been prevented," said Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Shaikh Muhammad Nur, President of the Islamic Society of North America, explained ISNA's long history in leading the American Muslim community in interfaith activism providing diverse communities responses to similar hate incidents in the United States.

"The role of Muslim religious leaders in creating avenues for their congregations to express their opinions and ideas is critical at such sensitive and volatile times," said Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Falls Church, VA.

Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, reiterated that violent responses and the destruction of embassies were departures from the tradition of the Prophet in similar situations.

The groups reaffirmed their commitment to build positive relations with all governments to counter extremism in all its forms. Ambassador Peterson was pleased with the meeting and appreciated the experience and advancements of the American Muslim community.



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