Facts and faith10 August, 2013 at 11:53 | Posted in Politics & Society | 2 Comments
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Danish Muslim leader who seven years ago traveled the Muslim world fueling the uproar over newspaper caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad is back in the headlines in Denmark after doing an about-face on the issue.
Once a leading critic of the Danish cartoons, which sparked fiery protests in Muslim countries, Lebanese-born Ahmad Akkari now says the Jyllands-Posten newspaper had the right to print them …
Akkari, now 35, was the spokesman for a group of imams who led the protests against the drawings in Denmark. They traveled to Lebanon, Egypt and Syria to elicit support, saying the Danish government wouldn’t listen to their concerns.
Their journeys helped turn the dispute into an international crisis. Dozens were killed in weeks of protests that included violent attacks against Danish missions in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Lebanon. Tiny Denmark found itself on a collision course with the Muslim world — something Akkari now regrets.
“I want to be clear today about the trip: It was totally wrong,” Akkari told The Associated Press this week. “At that time, I was so fascinated with this logical force in the Islamic mindset that I could not see the greater picture. I was convinced it was a fight for my faith, Islam.”
He said he’s still a practicing Muslim but started doubting his fundamentalist beliefs after a 2007 trip to Lebanon, where he met Islamist leaders.
“I was shocked. I realized what an oppressive mentality they have,” Akkari said.
Or as John Maynard Keynes (apocryphally) once said: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”