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Indonesian Muslim Organization Calls for Forgiveness Over Drawings of Prophet


The second largest Islamic organization in Indonesia has called for Muslims to forgive the publication of drawings of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper that has ignited protests around the world. Protests in Asia continue, with Afghanistan's leading Muslim organization also calling for an end to the violence there.

Din Syamsuddin, chairman of Indonesia's second largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, and the vice chairman of the influential Council of Ulemas, says Muslims must now forgive the publication of the cartoons.

"Islam teaches us to forgive, and forgiveness is one of a noble character, value, and teaching of Islam," he explained. " So if other parties, Danish media or Danish government, or other parties, have apologized to the Muslim community, essentially that's the obligation for the Muslims to give forgiveness."

Many Muslims are angry over cartoons published in September in a Danish newspaper depicting Islam's prophet, Muhammad, which have since been reprinted in Europe and elsewhere.

Islam forbids depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, flattering or otherwise.

Indonesian protesters stormed a building housing the Danish embassy last week, prompting the embassy to close and the Danish foreign ministry to urge its citizens to leave the country.

Din, of the 30,000 strong Muhammadiyah Muslim organization, says while Muslims have the right to protest against the drawings, violence is unacceptable.

"Of course any kind of protest from the Muslim community all over the world, including Indonesia is their right," he said. " Still, in my opinion, Muslims should not engage in violence and anarchism because all kinds of violence, anarchism, are also in contradiction to the very teaching of Islam."

Indonesia's foreign minister, Hassan Wirayuda, says radical groups are exploiting the controversy.

He says the cartoons have hurt the Islamic community and given ammunition to radical groups who want to exploit the situation, adding that the whole thing is getting out of proportion.

Afghanistan's top Islamic organization has also called for an end to the violent protests that have killed at least 11 people and injured dozens more in the country this week.

But protests continued across Asia Wednesday. In Bangladesh, more than 1,000 demonstrators burned the Danish flag, while other protests against the cartoons took place in India, Thailand, and the Philippines.