Kuwaitis push boycott of Danish goods

Saudis withdraw envoy in protest of cartoons deemed insulting to Mohammed.

saudi abdullah 88 (photo credit: CNN)
saudi abdullah 88
(photo credit: CNN)
Kuwait's state-supported supermarkets on Saturday announced a boycott of Danish products, and the Foreign Ministry called in a regional Danish ambassador to protest caricatures in a Danish newspaper that have been deemed insulting to Islam's prophet. Also Saturday, hundreds of Kuwaitis gathered in front of the Danish consulate holding banners and making speeches denouncing the drawings. "How dare you!" read one sign. Othman al-Seif, a 22-year-old university student, said: "Economy is the most important thing. We are boycotting their goods ... we want them to feel the harm as people the same way they harmed our prophet." The 12 drawings - published Sept. 30, 2005, by Danish paper Jyllands-Posten - included one showing Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse. Another portrayed him with a bushy gray beard and holding a sword, his eyes covered by a black rectangle. A third pictured a middle-aged prophet standing in the desert with a walking stick in front of a donkey and a sunset. The caricatures have sparked a wave of denunciations across the Islamic world and from Muslim leaders in Denmark. Islamic tradition bars any depiction of the prophet, even respectful ones, out of concern that such images could lead to idolatry. Jyllands-Posten has refused to apologize for the drawings, citing freedom of speech. Mohammed al-Mutairi, who heads Kuwait's union of supermarkets, said managers would meet Sunday to approve the boycott. He said some 275 Danish goods sold at these supermarkets are valued at $172 million a year. "There is almost unanimity there should be a boycott," he told a gathering of angry lawmakers and university students at Parliament. "We will announce the boycott of Danish goods starting tomorrow." The Kuwait News Agency quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying Kuwait "strongly condemned" the drawings and has called the Danish ambassador in Saudi Arabia for a meeting here. There is no resident Danish ambassador in Kuwait. A Foreign Ministry official said the meeting was scheduled for Saturday. He would not elaborate. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Denmark to protest the drawings. On Saturday in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Conference criticized the Danish government for failing to deal with the issue in a "serious way." "The publication of the drawings cannot be considered freedom of speech," Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told reporters. The drawings were reprinted on Jan. 10 by Norwegian evangelical newspaper Magazinet in the name of defending free expression, renewing Muslim anger. Al-Ummah, Kuwait's self-proclaimed only political party, said in a statement that the Danish and Norwegian governments should apologize to all Muslims. The insult "aggravates enmities among the peoples of the world at a time the world is in need of civilized dialogue," it said. The Norwegian Christian magazine, Magazinet, published the caricatures in the name of "freedom of expression" last Tuesday. Norway instructed its embassies in the Middle East to distance themselves from the controversial drawings. A letter from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, published in the daily newspaper Aftenposten Thursday, quotes Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere as saying that "I am sorry that the publications of the Prophet Muhammad in the Magazinet has caused unrest in the Muslim community." A global Muslim religious association went as far as to call for economic sanctions against both Denmark and Norway. Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) head Mohammad Hamdan told IslamOnline.net that, "The SIC condemns in the strongest possible terms the publishing of such offensive cartoons by Magazinet. "What on earth does freedom of expression mean?" a furious Hamadan asked. "What is the real motive behind this act? Is it out of free speech or to insult Muslims who make up the largest minority in Norway?"