A New York Muslim group has staged a prayer protest outside the Danish mission to the United Nations over the cartoons affair. While protests in other parts of the world have been often marked by violence, the New York demonstration was a model of calm.
New York City Muslims hold a peaceful demonstration near the U.N. headquarters Friday against the cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
The demonstration was aimed at the Danish mission and organized by a group calling itself the Islamic Circle of North America. The Imams of local mosques led their congregations to assemble for prayer at the protest site.
Kaleema Alameen, a native New Yorker, says the goal of the demonstration is to challenge the wide misperception of the Muslim people as violent.
"It is showing that, you know, we Muslims do not stand for violence. And it was very disrespectful to all Muslims all over. It made a mockery of our religion. And our religion does not promote violence. You know, they feel, because of the World Trade (Center), all Muslims are, you know, evil, or promote violence, and it is not true," she said.
Demonstrators held signs that read, Stop Bigotry, Learn History, Show Tolerance, Not Hate, and Denmark Must Apologize.
Hassain, a demonstrator originally from Sudan, says it is important for European newspapers that printed the cartoons to apologize to the Muslim community. "They have to apologize for what they have done. We are Muslim, we do not see Muhammad. We are Muslim, we never know. We do not know how he looks. How did they get that picture and put a bomb in his hand? You know what I mean? Why did they put his picture over there? We do not know his picture, how he look like. We do not know," she said.
New York City police contained the demonstration within one city block. Barricades lined the sides of the street, and police officers stood by to keep protestors under control. One demonstrator says that while he hopes for the success of the peaceful protest, he feels limited by the formalities involved.
People in the Middle East, as you know, they are in their own countries. And, they are not restricted like the Muslims in America, and the Muslims in the European countries. They are limited here. Yes, you have the right to demonstrate, but you are limited, you see. You have to keep a certain distance. You are not allowed to do all this stuff. You will not be able to get excited.
About 400 Muslims joined together in prayer at the demonstration. Protesters condemned the cartoon publications and said that the Prophet Muhammad was a peaceful man and Islam is a peaceful religion. They prayed for the end of the violent protests in the Middle East.