Manama (AsiaNews) Muslim scholars taking part in a two-day conference in Bahrain in support of the prophet have called for the respect of all religions and agreed on the need for continued dialogue with the West to better explain Muhammad and Islam, for the creation of an international organisation that enforces respect towards the prophet, and for studying non violent means of protest (including boycotts) against "blasphemous cartoons". They also agreed that places of worship, embassies, etc., should not be destroyed. The conference which ended last night drew 300 imams and Islamic scholars.
The topics on which agreement was reached were not however widely covered by the Arab press, more interested in stressing the views of the six Danish imams who attended the meeting and who denied they were in favour of suspending the boycott underway against products from Denmark and other countries where the Muhammad cartoons were published.
Al-Jazeera's online coverage of the conference for example largely focused on the Danish imams' views mentioning only at the end of its piece the conference's final communiqué and its demand for "constant dialogue with the West".
In addition to the above, Arab News reported that "prominent Muslims including Qatar-based Sheikh Youssef Al-Qaradawi and Saudi Sheikh Salman Al-Awdah condemned violent protests", but quoted Qaradawi who said that "[i]t is the right of Muslims to boycott those who are harming them and their prophet".
The sheikh, who chaired the two-day conference, also said that pressure should be put on the "United Nations to issue strong rules that would criminalise the defamation of religions".
IslamOnline highlighted instead the conference's conclusions. "The participants agreed on the need for organised and continued efforts to promote the truce image of Islam on the West."
"Dialogue is a tool to promote awareness in Western societies of what is sacred to Muslims," Egyptian television preacher Amr Khaled said.
Soliman Al-Buthi, spokesman of the two-day conference, echoed that viewpoint.
"We believe that the (cartoon) incident [occurred] because of ignorance about the prophet," he said. "But we need to educate the West about who the Prophet was and to have an open dialogue with the [it]."