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Campaign against Islam leads to radicalisation

A perceived mounting campaign against Islam in the West is irking liberals and Islamic clerics in Egypt, who are apprehensive that this trend will radicalise Muslims

Cairo: A perceived mounting campaign against Islam in the West is irking liberals and Islamic clerics in Egypt, who are apprehensive that this trend will radicalise Muslims.

"Nine years after the terror 9/11 attacks, the world should have rallied from the aftermath," said Hassan Shukri, an Egyptian liberal writer. "However, the latest remarks and acts in the West expose entrenched bias against Islam and Muslims. This is foreboding," he told Gulf News.

A threat by a US pastor to burn copies of the Quran has angered Muslims in Egypt and reinforced a general perception in this predominantly Muslim country that the West is not tolerant of their faith.

"It was also quite lamentable to see German Chancellor Angela Merkel honouring a cartoonist, who lampooned the Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] in his caricatures," said Shukri, referring to Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard whose cartoons of the Prophet infuriated Muslims across the world in 2006. "Freedom of expression should not be abused to insult followers of other faith."

To Safwat Hamad, a prayer leader in a mosque in northern Cairo, the West is "hypocritical" when it claims tolerance and respect of others. "Does killing Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan show respect to Islam or to humanity?" he told this newspaper. "For no good reason, the West in action continues to link terror to Islam though radicalism is not limited to a certain religion."

In his view, Al- Azhar, the Sunni Islamic world's prestigious institution should disregard repeated Western calls for inter-faith dialogue. "What is the use of talk while on the ground, the situation is completely different and disappointing? What wrong did Marwa Al Sherbini do in order to be murdered in front of passive [German] police?" Marwa, an Egyptian pharmacist, was fatally stabbed by a perceived German fanatic in a courtroom in Dresden in Germany last year. Though Germany said the murder was an individual act and sentenced the killer to life, Egyptians cited the murder as a sign of anti-Muslim sentiment and eulogised the woman as the martyr of the veil.

"This unrestricted attacks on Islam will definitely outrage the Muslims and force them to defend their religion, holy book and prophet," warned Hamad, the mosque leader.

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