Danish Democratic Muslim network seeks expansion
COPENHAGEN, March 2 (Reuters) A group of Muslims in Denmark, who opposed violent protests over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, said today it wanted to spread its message of democracy to fight fanaticism.
''If we can establish an international network of democratic Muslims, it is a good way to fight fanatic Islam, which is damaging to Muslims and Islam in general,'' Syrian-born Naser Khader, a member of parliament and founder of the Democratic Muslims network, told a news conference.
Khader said the network had been approached by like-minded Muslims in the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain, France, Spain, Norway, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria.
An association, which aims to fund the network, said it had collected more than 450,000 Danish crowns in less than a month. The association (www.dm-supporters.dk) has more than 15,000 members.
The cartoons first published by Danish Jyllands-Posten and later reprinted in other European papers sparked violent protests worldwide by Muslims, many of whom believe it is blasphemous to depict the Prophet.
Many Muslims demanded an official apology from the Nordic country, which has around 530 troops serving in Iraq. But Denmark has refused to apologise on behalf of the paper.
Members of the new network said the cartoon row had been hijacked by extremists on both sides of the conflict.
''It is now our duty to show that Muslims have many different faces. We are representing a wide range of political and religious backgrounds. Our common platform is democracy and respect for the constitutional state,'' said committee member Yildiz Akdogan.
The Democratic Muslims network will hold its inaugural meeting on April 1.
Denmark is home to around 200,000 Muslims, less than 4 percent of the 5.4 million population.
REUTERS OM PM2014