AFP, Jan. 30, 2006
Former US president Bill Clinton warned of rising anti-Islamic prejudice, comparing it to historic anti-Semitism as he condemned the publishing of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper.
“So now what are we going to do? . . . Replace the anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic prejudice?” he said at an economic conference in the Qatari capital of Doha.
“In Europe, most of the struggles we’ve had in the past 50 years have been to fight prejudices against Jews, to fight against anti-Semitism,” he said.
Clinton described as “appalling” the 12 cartoons published in a Danish newspaper in September depicting Prophet Mohammed and causing uproar in the Muslim world.
“None of us are totally free of stereotypes about people of different races, different ethnic groups, and different religions . . . there was this appalling example in northern Europe, in Denmark . . . these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam,” he said.
The cartoons, including a portrayal of the prophet wearing a time-bomb-shaped turban, were reprinted in a Norwegian magazine in January, sparking uproar in the Muslim world where images of the prophet are considered blasphemous.
Clinton criticised the tendency to generalise negative news of Islamic militancy.
“Because people see headlines that they don’t like (they will) apply that to a whole religion, a whole faith, a whole region and a whole people?” he asked.
A wide campaign to boycott Danish products has swept through Muslim countries as many governments and organisations have demanded an apology from the Danish government.
Clinton said the United States should continue to push for a Middle East settlement, in light of the stunning win by the radical Islamist movement Hamas in last week’s Palestinian elections.
“It is important that . . . we continue to be heavily involved in the resolution of the issues in the Middle East. (But) it depends in part on what Hamas says and does,” he said.
“When we (US) are involved, fewer people (have) died,” he said.
US President George W. Bush on Friday warned of cuts in US aid to the Palestinians if Hamas does not dissolve its armed wing and renounce threats against Israel.