Vandals in Denmark Strike Muslim Graves

By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 13, 2006; A16

COPENHAGEN, Feb. 12 -- About 25 Muslim graves in
western Denmark were vandalized late Saturday night,
bringing swift condemnation from Prime Minister Anders
Fogh Rasmussen as tensions simmer from a Danish
newspaper's publication last year of cartoons of the
Islamic prophet Muhammad.

"I strongly condemn this disgraceful act, and I deeply
regret the desecration of Muslim graves," Rasmussen
said in a statement released by his office Sunday
night. "I have made it clear that the Danish
government condemns any expression or any action which
offends people's religious feelings."

Ahmed Akkari, a prominent Muslim leader in Denmark,
said he was "happy" that Rasmussen had issued the
statement so quickly. He said that in similar cases in
the past, "nothing happened." Akkari said he believed
that those who vandalized the Muslim graves in the
city of Esbjerg, in Jutland, west of Copenhagen, "do
not represent the Danish people's general attitude."

Tensions between Muslims and ethnic Danes have been
extremely high in the past two weeks as the Muhammad
cartoons, which other papers have reprinted, have
sparked violent protests around the world. Akkari said
that Rasmussen's swift condemnation, with his promise
that authorities would "bring the perpetrators to
justice," was "maybe one of the positive signs" of
increased awareness between the two communities.

 2006 The Washington Post Company


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