|Imams who travelled to the Middle East and allegedly incited anger against Denmark over the Mohammed cartoons will not face criminal charges|
The State Prosecutor's office has been unable to find evidence that imams from Denmark broke any laws in their efforts to convince Muslims to protest against the publication of the Mohammed cartoons.
Despite over 100 allegations of violations of Denmark's terror laws, the Ministry of Justice's Office of Special International Crimes indicated the imams and others who travelled with them broke no laws when they visited Syria, Lebanon and Egypt in December 2005.
The decision to drop the charges clears the group of any responsibility for the burning of Danish embassies in those countries at the start of 2006.
State prosecutor Birgitte Vestberg said that the investigation concentrated particularly on anti-terror legislation's provisions regarding travel activity that threatens national security. She said that her office had gone through numerous documents, and found many statements contrary to fact, but nothing illegal and nothing that promoted violence toward Denmark.
The imams told national public broadcaster DR that they would do the same again under similar circumstances.
Kasem Said Ahmad, spokesperson for the Islamiske Trossamfund, the national organisation representing Denmark's Muslim population, said: 'Of course we would do it again, but we would be more careful with our information so that it is precise and clear.'
Cooperation through crisis
On January 10, 2005, a Christian weekly in Norway published controversial caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, bringing Norway to the center of an international backlash by the Muslim world.
"Norwegian Muslims were responsible and did what they could to defend Norway's interests and call for calm and reason," said leader of the Islamic Council Norway Mohammad Hamdan.
He remembers the crisis triggered by the publication of caricatures of the prophet Mohammed which appeared in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and then in Norwegian Christian weekly Magazinet a year ago. The publications set off a wave of violent international demonstrations against Denmark and Norway across the Muslim world in January and February 2006.
"It was easier to come through this crisis thanks to good dialog between the Islamic Council Norway, the Norwegian state church and the government. This led to a closer and even better cooperation between Muslim and Christian leaders. Together, we believe that freedom of speech must be exercised with responsibility," Hamdan said.
"If we had not had such a cooperation between the Islamic Council Norway and others, Norway could have quickly lost face in the Muslim world and also felt an economic backlash," Hamdan said.
But the year that has passed since the publication of the controversial caricatures has also produced tendencies that worry Norwegian Muslims.
"We feel that certain circles have an agenda that involves the constant demeaning of Muslims. In practice, there is not freedom of speech for all. There are some that set the agenda. Minorities dare not voice their opinion," Hamdan said.
Part of the Muslim-Christian cooperation a year ago consisted of sending a joint delegation to the Middle East. Hamdan took part, along with, among others, Oslo's senior rector Olav Dag Hauge.
Hauge also emphasizes the positive benefits caused by the caricature crisis.
"It has led to a more conscious dialog between the Norwegian Church and Islam, about finding a common stance for both sides," Hauge said. He also feels that the strength of the dialog is illustrated by its endurance during the difficult times a year ago.
Sources: Copenhagen Post (English), Aftenposten (English)