Web posted at: 4/9/2006 2:22:29
Source ::: Reuters
COPENHAGEN: Danish Muslim leaders praised yesterday a government decision to allow Denmark’s first Muslim cemetery after seven years of struggle, saying it signalled tolerance following the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) cartoon row.
“We are pleased, happy. It is an expression that Islam and Muslims are a part of Danish society,” Kasem Said Ahmad, chairman of the Danish Islamic Burial Foundation, said.
The Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs approved construction of the burial site on 50,000 square metres of land the foundation bought in southern Copenhagen several years ago.
Denmark’s centre-right government under Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been accused of religious intolerance, partly because of a crackdown on immigration. One of the main areas of contention with the Muslim community has been the lack of a Muslim cemetery.
Local politicians had opposed the development. More than 50 people were killed earlier this year in protests in Asia, Africa and the Middle East after Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, and later other Western media, published 12 cartoons about the Prophet (PBUH) in September.
Three Danish embassies were attacked and many Muslims have boycotted Danish goods due to the row. Muslims considers images of prophets disrespectful and caricatures blasphemous.
“Against the unfortunate background of the publishing of the cartoons, I see this as an expression of accommodation and tolerance that I believe, fundamentally, characterises the Danish government — also in regard to Muslims,” said Ahmad. More than 80 per cent of Danes are members of the state Lutheran church. There are about 200,000 Muslims in Denmark, roughly three per cent of the population.