Women march against Danish newspaper [Archives:2006/917/Front Page]

January 2 2006

By: Stine Exler
SANA'A, Feb. 1 ) “We don't want to fight them. We are here in peace to express our love for our messenger,” says Isma, one of the many female protesters. She is marching to show the rest of the world that we should all be able to live together with respect. In peace.

On Feb 1, the Al-Saleh Foundation had gathered thousands of girls and women at Al-Sabaeen Square. They marched for two hours to show their discontent with Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten and the illustrations of Mohammed that the paper published in September of last year. The atmosphere was thick with chanting and shouting under the big banners reading: “Boykot Danish products”.

Western ignorance

The question “why?” was asked again and again among the women, and a lot of the protesters believe that the drawings has to do with ignorance. People in the West do not have enough knowledge about the prophet Mohammed and the place he has in the hearts of Muslims. And all too often, Islam is being linked to terrorism as in some of the drawings.

“If the editor of the newspaper had known about Mohammed's life, he would not have published these drawings,” says Manal, who lives in Sana'a. “The people of the West should read about Islam, because then they would understand why we love him so much, and why we feel so insulted by these drawings.”

Nadia, a Sana'a student agrees: “There are bad people all over the world. Bad Christians, bad Jews, bad Muslims. We all know that. But the newspaper portrayed Mohammed as a terrorist, and terrorism has nothing to do with Mohammed or with being a Muslim. And it seems like people in the West do not always understand that.”

Danish regrets

Both the Danish newspaper and the Danish prime minister have issued public apologies and regrets recently. But some of the women were not aware of this fairly recently development.

One protester said: “If I had known that they had said they were sorry, then I don't think I would have marched today. Their apology means that they know they did something wrong.”

Among the people of Denmark, text messages are being sent from phone to phone to apologize to anyone who feels insulted and misunderstood. In Yemen, the Royal Danish Consulate has sent a letter directly to the Yemen Times saying that they deeply regret the publication of the controversial caricatures of the prophet Mohammed and the way it has hurt the sentiments of Muslims. The letter stresses that Jyllands-Posten has apologized for the publication, and for its repercussions in the Muslim world. It also mentions the regrets expressed by the Danish Prime Minister through correspondence with the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Conferences.