Cartoon Controversy: What Would Mohammed Do?

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - A U.S.-based Islamic civil rights group is urging people of all faiths to turn a cartoon controversy into a "positive learning experience."

On Thursday, representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations met with the Norwegian ambassador to the United States to discuss the controversy surrounding publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

A Danish newspaper first published the cartoons in late September, and more recently a Norwegian magazine reprinted them. As the controversy went global, prompting violent protests in some parts of the world, a number of other European newspapers also reprinted the caricatures of Mohammed.

One of the cartoons portrayed Mohammed as a terrorist, but beyond that provocation, Muslims consider any depiction of their prophet to be blasphemous.

"Intentionally provocative attacks on Islam should be rejected in the same way that credible media outlets quite rightly decline to publish anti-Semitic materials," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad, who attended the meeting with the Norwegian ambassador.

"People of all faiths in the West and in the Muslim world should look for ways to turn this troubling episode into a positive learning experience."

Sermons on Mohammed

Awad said CAIR is calling on mosques in America and worldwide to offer sermons this Friday highlighting how the Prophet Mohammed responded to personal attacks. CAIR quoted Hadith 335, which says, "You (Prophet Mohammed) do not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness."

Awad also asked mosques and Islamic institutions to hold public activities focusing on Mohammed's life.

During Thursday's meeting at the Norwegian embassy in Washington, CAIR officials said they stressed the need for "interfaith and intercultural dialogue and mutual respect."

They said Ambassador Knut Vollebaek reiterated his government's support for religious tolerance: "All people have the right to respect for their religion and the right to presume that neither their religion nor their religious affiliation will be subject to contempt," Ambassador Vollebaek was quoted as saying.

The ambassador called it "unfortunate and deplorable" that a Norwegian magazine reprinted the cartoons that caused offense.

Subscribe to the free daily E-Brief.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.