03/23/2006, 00.00
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Muslim conference "for the Support of the Prophet" opens

Some 300 Muslim leaders and scholars are gathered in Bahrain to study ways to react to the Muhammad cartoons. Debates are animated; some voices call for non violent means of protest.

Manama (AsiaNews) – The First Conference of the International Committee for the Support of the Prophet opened last night in Manama, Bahrain with the goal, among other things, of teaching Muslims to protect their rights without resorting to negative practices such as violent protests (as was the case in the reaction to the Muhammad cartoons) but using tools such as boycotting products from Denmark and other countries where the 'offensive' cartoons where published, this according to Sheikh Adel Al-Muawda, one of the gathering's organisers. "The scholars attending the conference will underline that Sharia bans such practices," he said.

The conference, which was organised to prevent other anti-Islam offences, attracted some 300 religious leaders and scholars. The tone of the discussions was at times animated.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars and chairman of the conference, said that the battle was imposed on Muslims with the goal of offending Islam and the Islamic nation. He said the goal of the conference was to come up with ways and means to defend the prophet.

"We do not urge hatred, but we must defend our prophet" and "improve his image in the West where he is seen as a man picking beautiful women for his harem".

The conference is supposed to discuss the roots of the Western vision of Islam. The participants are also pursuing an ambitious goal, namely "regulating relations between Islam and the West".

"We believe that the incident [the Muhammad cartoons] was because of ignorance about the prophet," Soliman Al-Buthi, another conference spokesman

"An economic boycott is one of the ways to combat the ignorance and protest about what has happened, but we need to educate the West about who the prophet was and to have an open dialogue with the West," Buthi said.

The conference should end with a series of recommendations on how to organise an international campaign in defence of Islam and Muhammad.

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