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Muslims protest Norway newspaper cartoon

Last update - Thursday, February 25, 2010, 11:33 By Catherine Reilly

MUSLIMS HAVE handed a protest letter to the Norwegian Embassy in Dublin after a tabloid in Norway published a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

A small gathering of Muslims from a group known as Glór Moslamach (Muslim Voice) told Metro Éireann the action was in protest at the publication of “an extremely insulting cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Norwegian tabloid Dagbladet.”
The spokesman noted that around 3,000 Muslims had protested in Oslo over the caricature of the Prophet Muhammad as a pig.
According to reports, Dagbladet had printed a photo of the cartoon on 3 February to illustrate a lead story on how the Facebook page of the Norwegian Police Security Service linked to pages featuring caricatures of the Prophet.
These links had been posted by participants to the Facebook group and were removed by the police security service.
In 2005, Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published cartoons depicting the Islamic Prophet as a terrorist and oppressor. The paper said it was an attempt to raise the issue of self-censorship. The cartoons led to reprints in other publications and riots in parts of the Muslim world.
Glór Moslamach says it considers the publication of the latest image as part of “a dangerous trend” in the west where Muslims and Islam “are being repeatedly ridiculed and insulted”.
The spokesman said the protest at the Norwegian Embassy was a means of conveying “the fact that these acts are... not about freedom of speech.”
He said the gathering of around 15 people would have been larger if local mosques had been informed. “This issue draws a lot of support from the Muslim community,” he added.
Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland Oyvind Nordsletten confirmed to Metro Éireann that he received a letter from the protesters and had spoken with them.
The ambassador said he underlined that the constitution and laws of Norway protect freedom of expression. However, he also emphasised that the image in question was printed by a newspaper, and Norwegian state authorities were “not associated with this material in any way”.
He concluded by noting that after Christianity, Islam is the most popular religion in Norway, with just under 100,000 Muslims among Norway’s 4.8 million population.
The ambassador said Muslims are valued, and that Norway “fully respects their wish to exercise their religion”. He added that he wasn’t surprised at the protest, as “religion is a very serious matter to many people”.

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