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Last Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006, 12:02 GMT
Danes in bid to boost Muslim ties
Amr Khaled
Amr Khaled has called for dialogue between Muslims and Denmark
Denmark is hosting a conference aimed at improving its ties with the Muslim world, after the uproar over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

The talks are being attended by Muslim and Christian scholars and clerics, including a popular Egyptian preacher.

The images, first published in Denmark, sparked protests and violence in many parts of the world.

The Danish government has apologised for the distress the drawings caused, but not for the cartoons themselves.

One showed the Prophet Muhammad, whose depiction is banned in Islam, as a bomber.

Many newspapers defended their decision to reprint the cartoons on the grounds of freedom of expression.

Violent anti-Danish protests earlier this year led to a number of deaths in Africa and South Asia and the destruction of Danish embassies in the Middle East.

Uncertainty

Correspondents say the Copenhagen conference aims to address an ongoing boycott of Danish goods, as well as widespread bitterness which has continued in the wake of the global protests.

CARTOON ROW
A policeman armed with tear gas stands in front of protesters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
30 Sept 2005: Danish paper publishes cartoons
10 Jan 2006: Norwegian publication reprints cartoons
31 Jan: Danish paper apologises
1 Feb: Papers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain reprint cartoons
4-5 Feb: Danish embassies in Damascus and Beirut attacked
6-12 Feb: Twelve killed in Afghanistan protests
13-18 Feb: Violent protests break out across Pakistan
18 Feb: 16 killed in Nigerian protest
19 Feb: Police tear gas demonstrators in Islamabad, Pakistan

Moderate Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled is expected to be one of the key speakers at the one-day meeting.

The Islamic television preacher has condemned both the caricatures and the subsequent violence, and called for a dialogue between Muslims and Denmark.

He says he has the backing of a large number of Muslim thinkers, but his attendance has been criticised in the Middle East by those opposing dialogue.

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Copenhagen says the meeting hopes to find common ground, but there is a risk it may expose differences between the Western and Muslim worlds - re-igniting the furore.

In a sign of the uncertain mood in Denmark, the state railway company barred a billboard advertising a new book about Islam by a Danish professor.

The book, titled What is Islam?, contained no images of the Prophet, and a Danish imam agreed that the company had overreacted. The decision has now been reversed.


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