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Danes must apologise to Muslims to end boycott-imam

Written by: Staff
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MANAMA, Mar 23 (Reuters) Danish imams attending an Islamic scholars meeting in Bahrain will not call for a halt to a Muslim boycott of their country's goods until Danes apologise for cartoons of the prophet Mohammad, an imam today said.

Danish media reported today that the delegation of Danish imams would issue an appeal calling for the boycott of Danish products and firms to be lifted.

But Raed Hlayhel, who is leading a delegation of Danish imams to the ''International Conference for Supporting the Prophet'', denied this.

''We didn't ask that the boycott be ended, but we urged that there is no escalation of the boycott. The ball is in their court ... They have to help us to end this boycott,'' Hlayhel told Reuters.

''Danish people must send a reassuring message to Muslims that they do not agree with what was printed in the newspaper and that they respect Muslims.'' The cartoons first printed by a Danish paper and later reprinted in other countries, provoked a storm of protests among Muslims, attacks on three Danish embassies and a boycott of Danish goods in some countries which has hit dairy exports.

Denmark's prime minister has said he regretted the hurt caused to Muslims but refuses to apologise on behalf of the paper. The editor of Jyllands-Posten has apologised for offending Muslims but defended the paper's right to publish the cartoons.

Denmark is home to around 200,000 Muslims, less than four percent of its population.

Scholars at the conference, which ends today, are expected to call for a study on the effects of the boycott to decide what measures they may take next.

A communique will also ask for the creation of an international organisation for supporting the Prophet, a fund to support regular conferences, constant dialogue with the West, and a legal office to follow up cases of blasphemy against Muslims and Islam.

REUTERS DKS PM1905

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