CAIRO - A recent attack on a Danish writer known for his anti-Islam views has invited a storm of condemnations from the Muslim community in Denmark, an approach seen by many in the Scandinavian country as a shift in the Muslim reaction to freedom of speech.
We Muslims have to find a new way of reacting, Qaiser Najeeb, a 38-year-old second-generation Dane, told The New York Times on Thursday, February 28.
Instead of focusing on the real point, we always get aggressive and emotional. This should change, said Najeeb, of Afghan origin.
Freedom of Expression: The Muslim Definition
An Offensive Film? The Prophetic Action Plan
We don't defend Hedegaard's views but do defend his right to speak. He can say what he wants.
Lars Hedegaard, who is known for his anti-Islam views, survived an attempt on his life earlier this month.
The identity of the attacker on the writer, who is a major figure in a British group, Hope Not Hate, identified as a global movement of Islamophobic writers, bloggers and activists, was not known.
But the attack has triggered widespread condemnations from Muslim groups in Denmark.
The Islamic Society, which runs Denmark's biggest mosque, swiftly condemned the attack on Hedegaard.
The Minhaj ul Quran International, another Muslim group, also denounced the attack and organized a demonstration outside Copenhagen's city hall to defend free speech.
Denmark is home to a Muslim minority of 200,000, making three percent of the country's 5.4 million population.
The Scandinavian country was the focus of Muslim anger in 2005 after a newspaper published cartoons lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
Following the cartoons crisis, Muslims worldwide took many initiatives to remove widely circulated stereotypes about Islam in the West.
Danish Muslims established the European Committee for Honoring the Prophet, a grouping of 27 Danish Muslim organizations, to raise awareness about the merits and characteristics of the Prophet.
Many see the Muslim condemnations of the attack as a major shift in their reaction to free speech.
They have changed their approach, Karen Haekkerup, Denmark's minister of social affairs and integration, told The New York Times.
It is a good sign that the Muslim community is now active in the debate.
Muslims opine that their position would help show to the Danish public that Islam does not sanction violence.
We knew that this was something people would try to blame on us, said Imran Shah of Copenhagen's Islamic Society.
We knew we had to be in the forefront and make clear that political and religious violence is totally unacceptable.
Asmat Ullah Mojadeedi, a medical doctor, believes that the anti-Islam writer mirrors reckless Muslims who shoot off their mouths heedless of the consequences.
There are stupid people everywhere, Dr. Mojadeddi, the chairman of the Muslim Council of Denmark, said.
Mr. Hedegaard is an extremist, and there are definitely extremist Muslims.
Native Danes themselves have the belief that the Islamophobic writer seeks to provoke violence by his anti-Islam views.
I think that Hedegaard wanted this conflict, said Mikael Rothstein, a religious history scholar at the University of Copenhagen, said during a discussion on Danish television.Brutal words can be as strong as the brutal physical act of violence.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net