A file photo of the Central Mosque in Oslo.

By Ahmad Maher, IOL Staff

CAIRO, January 11, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) – Norwegian Muslims on Wednesday, January 11, blasted an obscure magazine for echoing a Danish daily and publishing a set of caricatures offending Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

“The Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) condemns in the strongest possible terms the publishing of such offensive cartoons by Magazinet,” SIC Head Mohammad Hamdan told IslamOnline.net over the phone from Oslo.

The Christian magazine on Tuesday, January 10, published the same cartoons that caused uproar in the Muslim world after first emerged in Denmark’s mass circulation Jyllands-Posten last September.

It printed the blasphemous cartoons in the name of “freedom of expression.”

“What on earth does freedom of expression mean?” A furious Hamadan wondered.

“What is the real motive behind this act? Is it out of free speech or to insult Muslims who make up the largest minority in Norway?”

Hamdan said it is crystal-clear that the publishers want to trigger a sectarian sedition inside peaceful Norway.

“These caricatures do no good for Muslims, Christians or even atheists, but will only shake the national unity to its foundations,” he said.

He went on: “The prophet himself will not be affected by such provocative drawings, which are aimed at today’s Muslims.”

Twelve cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad in different settings appeared in Jyllands-Posten on September 30.

In one of the drawings, an image assumed to be that of the Prophet appeared with a turban shaped like a bomb strapped to his head.

The blasphemous images have drawn rebuke from the Muslim minority and triggered a diplomatic crisis between Denmark and Arab and Muslim countries.

Extremists

Hamadan said these cartoons must have been published by a bunch of “extremists” in the Christian magazine.

“We never heard of this magazine and had it not been for news agencies, we wouldn’t have known about the publishing,” Hamadan said.

He noted that this magazine did in no way speak for the Christian community in Norway.

“Some Christian organizations have already denounced in statements the magazine’s act and distanced themselves from it,” the Muslim leader said.

“Editors should not take free speech as an excuse to insult a certain religion; otherwise they risk an extremist response from the offended, which carries grave consequences.”

On politicians’ stance on the offensive cartoons, Hamadan said Muslims await a strong and clear condemnation.

“I’m confident that the ministers here will give heartfelt condemnation unlike their peers in Denmark,” he said in reference to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller.

Hamadan said the Danish premier’s stance on the cartoons was not “positive”

“He only moved after mounting pressures from the Muslim world and to protect Danish investments in Arab and Muslim countries,” he said.

“Rasmussen himself had refused to receive a delegation of Muslim ambassadors over the issue,” he recalled.

Rasmussen urged the Danish people in a New Year address to practice their right to freedom of speech without inciting hatred against Muslims or other minorities.

Hamdan further said that a lawyer currently studies the possibility of suing the magazine under relevant Norwegian laws.

Danish Muslims are planning to take their legal battle against the Jyllands-Posten daily to the country’s federal attorney general and the EU human rights commission after loosing a local case.

Al-Azhar, the highest seat of religious learning in the Sunni world, has vowed to raise the issue of the provocative caricatures with the UN and international human rights organizations.