18 February 2008

Danish atheist starts campaign to apologise to Muslims

Anders Bøtter, an atheist Danish student, has started a Facebook group called Sorry Muhammad, which is calling on Danes to apologise to Muslims over the reprinting of a defamatory cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Bøtter says that the cartoon issue has become unncessarily polarising, and that, while he is not personally insulted by the cartoon, its reprinting "hurts the feelings of Muslims a lot". In his words,

What does hurt my feelings is when a Danish newspaper publishes these very mocking cartoons of Muhammad. For me this is not a matter of a drawing but the mocking of one of our minority groups in Denmark and that's a big problem. That is why I apologise for being a Dane coming from Denmark.

This is not the first time
Bøtter has taken action over the cartoons: after their initial publication in 2006, he apologised to his Muslim friends in different countries by e-mail. This time around, Bøtter is trying to get 10,000 Danes to join his group; over 1,000 did in the first day of its existence. One Danish girl wrote to Bøtter saying that the very existence of his group made her feel proud to be Danish, because of its attempt to engage in dialogue.

A rival Facebook group has been set up by those who think there is nothing to apologise about; the group is called No Need to Apologise to Muhammad (BBC).

Bøtter is a true man of conscience, and I hope he gets his 10,000 members. He understands the issue for what it is: needless insults heaped repeatedly on a minority that is disadvantaged as it is. Let's hope that any Muslims who may be frustrated with Denmark over the issue also see that there is more than one side to the country.

1 comment:

Rashed said...

This morning I got a comment to this post from another atheist Dane that began with the line "Dear Angry Muslim. Why are you so angry?". I am not posting the rest of his or her comment here because it violated my comment guidelines several times over.

However, if the person who sent the comment is reading this, I'd like to ask them: What in the above post made you think I was angry, and that, too, with a capital "A"? I said, at the closing of my post, "Let's hope that any Muslims who may be frustrated with Denmark over the issue also see that there is more than one side to the country." Is that a call to anger? Isn't it rather an appeal to appreciate the diversity of Denmark?

The person who sent the comment also called on me to stop "screaming and yelling and threatening others". When, excuse me, have I screamed or yelled or threatened others? Yes, I am frustrated with the republication of the cartoon. I find it offensive. How is this statement equivalent to "screaming and yelling and threatening others"?

So, dear Anonymous, thank you for taking the time to write your comment, but it seems to me that you have created a template in your mind that you are trying to fit me into. I'm sorry, but I don't fit your template. When the cartoon fiasco first broke out in 2006, my wife and I, along with some friends, organised a discussion session in Montreal in which 90 people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds discussed issues such as freedom of speech and respect for minorities. Not a single flag was present at the meeting, let alone burned.

So before you leap to judgment, please understand that there is diversity of opinion and action among Muslims too, just as there is among non-Muslim Danes.

In other words, chill, man, you know what I'm saying?

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