Muslim Action Committee

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Danish Imams Key to Social Harmony
By Nidal Abu Arif, IOL Correspondent

COPENHAGEN – Imams in Denmark are believed to be playing a pivotal role in resolving disputes and squabbles in Muslim-populated areas of the Scandinavian country.
"We are trying our best to project a positive image of Islam and Muslims in Denmark," Imam Ghassan Edwan told "We are helping police maintain order in areas densely populated by Muslims, but we don't interfere in their business," he stressed. Edwan said that imams basically focus on social problems. Danish daily Politiken highlighted in a report on Sunday, May 28, the key social role of imams in the country's three biggest cities of Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense. Manu Sareen, a Copenhagen municipality integration adviser, told the paper that imams impressively serve as intermediaries to resolve a lot of everyday social problems facing Muslims at a request from Danish authorities.Inge Leingaard, a University of Aarhus researcher, said many Muslims tend to iron out their differences themselves thanks to imams' intervention. Lars Bro, a local police chief in Aarhus, said imams were doing police a big favor."They spare us a lot of extra work and I really appreciate that," he told the daily.


Edwan said their good offices appeal to many Muslims nationwide."Danish Muslims, especially the second generation, hold imams at high esteem and appreciate the role we are playing," he said. The imam hoped that Danish authorities would do more to enhance their cooperation with imams in the future."I wish that the government would prove more forthcoming and help us in our integration efforts, which strike the right balance between our Islamic identity and Danish values," he noted. Imams in Denmark have been under fire from government circles on charges of triggering the controversy that erupted earlier this year over the publication of cartoons lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Denmark's Deputy Prime Minister Bendt Bendtsen in March called for the expulsion of several imams on the same ground.The imams hit back, arguing that they had to "internationalize" the cartoons issue after their complaints to the government fell on deaf ears.


EU Officials Hold Talks With Religious Leaders
Associated Press
BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 30 - Senior EU officials were holding talks Tuesday with Christian, Islamic and Jewish leaders as well as Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to discuss how to strike a balance between freedom of speech and religious sensitivities. Attention has been focused on the issue since newspaper caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad triggered protests by Muslims worldwide.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel were co-chairing the talks that aim to ease tensions between religions around the world, Barroso's office said. Barroso told reporters going into the talks that the meeting was "a brainstorming with no pre-hatched conclusions," hoping to build on respect for diversity. "It really is an opportunity to discuss freely amongst ourselves," Barroso said. The EU leaders and their 16 religious counterparts were to debate ways on how the religious leaders can better handle tensions like the ones that spread amid the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which sparked a series of violent protests across the Islamic world. Many Muslims joined by other faiths denounced the drawings as offensive. But media outlets from a number of countries have carried the Danish cartoons asserting their right to free expression. Schuessel said regular meetings with religious leaders should be set up. "We have so many problems to overcome, we need really all forces, all moderate and constructive forces, to help to create a better world," Schuessel said.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

MAC would like to retract the accusations made in the last post against the organisers of the March for Free Expression and the Oxford Secular Society. Although there was circumstantial evidence that suggested that the debate had been rigged, on investigation it turned out we were wrong. I travelled with an Imam from MAC to Oxford last night to listen to Peter Risdon's talk. There was a small attendance of perhaps 12 people. It was very clear that our suspicions were misfounded.
We would like to apologise to all concerned for our hasty accusations. We would however like to advise both the MfFe and OSS to organise their events with a little more professionalism, as this will increase confidence of participants in any further debates.
In all these things, something good always emerges and we had the opportunity to talk to Peter Risdon face to face about many of the issues and we believe both sides managed to get a better appreciation of the concerns and feelings of the other. InshaAllah we hope that this dialogue will continue.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


We regret to inform you that the debate between the learned Scholars of the Muslim Action Committee and the organisers of the March for Free Expression will not be proceeding tomorrow as planned but will have to be rescheduled for a future date.

The primary reason for this is that there is clear evidence to suggest that this debate is a set up, ensuring that the final outcome of the vote would landslide in favour of the MfFE. There is also circumstantial evidence to suggest that the organisers of the March for Free Expression are working in close partnership with the Oxford Secular Society to the exclusion of MAC.

It was known at the outset that the Oxford Secular Society was ideologically allied with the positions of the MfFE, however it was decided by the organisers of MAC to allow OSS to organise the debate based on trust and in the hope that there would be total transparancy.

It does seem however that that trust has been misfounded. From day one there has been a lack of transparancy in the organisation of this debate.

  1. An agreeable venue was not disclosed until 5.45pm the day before the debate. What was being intimated by the OSS until the last minute was that the numbers of guests allowed to MAC would be restricted to 20. This was based on an initial venue capacity of 40.
  2. Even at the 11th hour the capacity of the final venue has not been disclosed. The final location was withheld and was only disclosed to MAC when the organisers of MAC threatened to pull out. Even then the venue that was disclosed does not specify the particular hall and the numbers that it can accommodate. The site that has been selected houses a number of rooms with varying capacities.
  3. There was assumedly a poster campaign by the OSS without even disclosing a venue for the debate.
  4. It seems however that MfFE have known the capacity of the venue for some time. It is also clear that the MfFE and the OSS have been discreetly canvassing students of their persuasion from the campus and outside guests without any restrictions. Of course the organisers of MAC have not been afforded such facility but have been restricted to the numbers they can invite by OSS.
  5. If we view the comments section on the Making Headlines blog we find the following informative comment on the behind the scenes rigging that has been going on:

Sunday, 30 April, 2006, Steve said...
Doesn't this show how far we still have to go?The MAC have publicised the debate to get their supporters along. There is sod all on the MfFE site.We need to get better at mobilising our supporters.
At Monday, 01 May, 2006, Alison said...
i thought peter said he had it covered at oxford with students, fully booked.

This explains why it was not until yesterday that OSS informed MAC that they could bring twenty people maximum and the rest of the attendees would have to be Oxford Students who would be allowed to bring a single guest each. As the exact venue has not been confirmed until today, how many non-partisan Oxford Students do you imagine will show up?

It is also not coincidental the the OSS were seeking to restrict the speakers to a time limit of 5 minutes each and make the body of the debate to questions and answers, thus suiting the planted audience. Whilst MAC is not afraid of Q & A's, the said forum has to be balanced with people questioning on what was presented to them and not what they assume from their prejudicial pre-disposition.

Organisers of MAC are stunned that such practices have been allowed at the seat of world renowned learning at Oxford. The Vice-Chancellor will be invited to investigate this under handed dealing of people supposedly underpinning the virtues of secular society.

On this basis, the learned Scholars of MAC find it repugnant to attend this clearly rigged debate, and thus will not be attending tomorrow. The organisers of MAC openly challenge the MfFE and OSS to a free and transparent debate and will make every efforts to ensure that such a debate is scheduled shortly. The rescheduled debate must involve representatives of both sides of the motion throughout the organisational process with neutral hosts. The organisers of MAC invite the Oxford Union to host such a debate after a short adjournment.