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"Muhammad" Becomes Household Name in Fran

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    Posted: 07 April 2006 at 1:28pm
"Muhammad" Becomes Household Name in France

PARIS, February 12, 2006 ( – Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has become a household name in France after the Danish cartoons that lampooned the noble prophet took center stage in the French media.

Front-page headlines reading "The Truth About Islam in France," "Islam Rise" and "Islamism…Why Does This Religion Spread that Fast?" in newspapers and magazines like the leftist Nouvel Observateur and the rightist L'Express are but few examples of the media frenzy over the Muslim faith.

French TV channels have hosted Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals in brainstorming programs over the cartoon crisis, while other channels screened documentaries on the Islamic civilization.

Some analysts have gone far by linking the Muslim fervency over the blasphemous cartoons to the skyrocketing Islamic current in the Arab world in view of magnificent showing by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in the parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories and Egypt respectively.

The French translation of the meanings of the Noble Qur'an and Islamic books have also become much sought-after by curious French, who want to know more about this much stereotyped religion.

Twelve cartoons of Prophet Muhammad were first published last September by Denmark's mass-circulation Jyllands-Posten daily and then reprinted by several European papers, including French France Soir.

The managing editor of France Soir was immediately sacked for republishing the blasphemous cartoons.

Last week, the satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo reprinted the cartoons in addition to a cartoon of its own, prompting strong condemnation from President Jacques Chirac.

"Anything that can hurt the convictions of another, particularly religious convictions, must be avoided. Freedom of expression must be exercised in a spirit of responsibility," averred the French leader.

"Blessing in Disguise"

"The anti-prophet publication proved to be a blessing in disguise," Al-Arabi Keshat, the imam of Al-Dawa mosque in Paris, told on Saturday, February 11.

"Now the prophet's name has become a household name in France and the publication has whipped up Muslim enthusiasm for defending the Prophet."

French interest in Islam started after the 9/11 attacks but peaked in 2004 when the parliament enacted a law banning religious insignia and hijab in state-run schools, says IOL's correspondent.

"Islam steals the limelight when Muslims become part of a hot issue," like hijab, said Xavier Trenisien, a Le Monde expert on Islam.

A poll undertaken by La Cru newspaper and released on Thursday, February 9, showed that 54% of the French opposed the publication of the Danish cartoons.

The survey said that 78% of the respondents expected a rise in violence prompted by the cartoons' republication.

The anti-cartoon protests continued unabated on Saturday with up to 4,000 demonstrators converging on Trafalgar Square in central London, joining the capital's mayor in a protest against the cartoons.

On Friday, February 10, around 200 protesters marched to the Danish Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, and burnt Danish and American flags.

It was the first such demonstration in Latin America in a sweeping global protest over the cartoons that has brought millions of Muslims to the streets from Jakarta to Nairobi.
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