From the Norway Post, with thanks to Jostein Abeltveit and Nicolei:
Most of Norway’s top politicians, but very few Imams participated in Saturday’s Muslim torchlight protest march in Oslo against violence and terrorism.
Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik was disappointed over the fact that most Imams boycotted the protest march.
– They say they are against violence and murders. Why don’t they join us here in this protest, Bondevik said to NRK during the march.
A group of Muslim leaders in Norway had wanted to disassociate themselves from violence and terrorism, and had organized the torchlight march through downtown Oslo to mark their stand.
However, another group had opposed the march.
The background for the march is a statement by the spokesman for the Islamic Council In Norway, Zahid Mukhtar, who earlier commented on the murder of the Ducth film maker Theo van Gogh.
Mukhtar said on a nationwide TV discussion program that he could understand that Muslims had been provoced by van Gogh’s latest film, and that he could understand why someone murdered him.
-We object to the murder and violence under any circumstance. Mukhtar’s statements have created an ambiguity which we cannot afford, says Khalid Mahmood, City Council representative for the Oslo Labour Party.
However, on Saturday morning Aftenposten reported that central Imams from several Oslo’s mosques do not wish to take part in the march.
-I react to the fact that Muslims continuously have to prove that we are against violence by participating in protest marches. We feel we are being forced to take part, says Imran Mushtaq, deputy leader of the Islamic Council of Norway, to Aftenposten.
He has therefore launched a campaign encouraging people to sign a petition titled “Muslims in Norway are of course opposed to all violence and criminal acts”.