Back in 2005, Danish Muslim Ahmad Akkari traveled the Islamic world to bring to it’s attention a series of cartoons published by a local newspaper that he felt attacked his faith. The result was the Danish Cartoon controversy.
Now, Akkari says he made a mistake. He should not have taken the cartoons as an attack; he should not have stirred anger against the cartoonists or the paper.
In an Associate Press story carried on Al Arabiya TV’s website, Akkari notes that his actions fed extremists. His repudiation of his earlier stance has not swayed all Muslims in Denmark — or the rest of the world — who are still angry about the cartoons. The Danish government would like to see him take his new arguments to sources like Al-Jazeera TV where it might have at least some of the impact his earlier arguments made.
Danish Muslim leader regrets role in cartoon rage
Associated Press, Copenhagen
A Danish Muslim leader who seven years ago traveled the Muslim world fueling the uproar over newspaper caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad is back in the headlines in Denmark after doing an about-face on the issue.
Once a leading critic of the Danish cartoons, which sparked fiery protests in Muslim countries, Lebanese-born Ahmad Akkari now says the Jyllands-Posten newspaper had the right to print them.
His unexpected change of heart has received praise from pundits and politicians in recent weeks, though some question his sincerity. It has also disappointed some in the country’s Muslim minority who were deeply offended by the cartoons.
Akkari, now 35, was the spokesman for a group of imams who led the protests against the drawings in Denmark. They traveled to Lebanon, Egypt and Syria to elicit support, saying the Danish government wouldn’t listen to their concerns.
Their journeys helped turn the dispute into an international crisis. Dozens were killed in weeks of protests that included violent attacks against Danish missions in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Lebanon. Tiny Denmark found itself on a collision course with the Muslim world – something Akkari now regrets.
“I want to be clear today about the trip: It was totally wrong,” Akkari told The Associated Press this week. “At that time, I was so fascinated with this logical force in the Islamic mindset that I could not see the greater picture. I was convinced it was a fight for my faith, Islam.”