Og hvem interviewer Kamelens yndlingsavis først: Labanen. “Det eneste problem med Danmark er ….. danskerne.”
Ahmad Abu-Laban, the fiery cleric who organised the tour, said he has few regrets – though he admitted he is suffering from rather bad ulcers. “In Denmark I’m a very bad guy,” he said. “In fact I was on the bus the other day when a Danish lady came up to me and said: ‘You are a very stupid man.’ I said: ‘Thank you, madam’.”
According to Mr Abu-Laban, the cartoons a year ago were the “final straw” – and followed a long list of “provocations” aimed at Denmark’s small Muslim community. “When I saw the cartoons I said to myself: ‘Oh, not again’,” he said. “I had a vague feeling that something bad would happen. When we asked the cartoonists for an apology they refused. They were arrogant and unreasonable.”
The cleric insists that the ensuing crisis was not his fault. The caricatures were an affront to Muslim dignity, he said, and there were limits in every society to free speech. “I can’t go around in this country suggesting that the queen of Denmark is a whore,” he said.
But if he doesn’t like Denmark why doesn’t he leave? “Denmark is a nice country. It’s merely that people have this kind of phobia towards Muslims.”
Most Danish Muslims are still disillusioned with Denmark’s prime minister. His alliance with President George Bush, his decision to send Danish troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, and his recent trip to Camp David, make them wince. After prayers at a Copenhagen mosque, Noah Amed, 32, whose mother is Danish and father Egyptian, said: “If Bush is the big dog, and Tony Blair the small dog, then Rasmussen is the puppy.”
They admitted, however, that the row has had its positive side. Danes have been forced to take an interest in Muslims – while Muslims have taken a greater interest in themselves.
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