Following are excerpts of a speech delivered in English by Kuwaiti cleric Sheik Tareq Al-Suweidan, Director-General of Al-Risala TV, at the Copenhagen convention. The speech, which aired on Al-Risala TV on March 31, 2006, was delivered in English, and is transcribed by MEMRI TV.
Tareq Al-Suweidan: We are not angry because some of your cartoonists have drawn our beloved Prophet. We are aggravated because of the way your government has mishandled this situation. Few people insult religious figures throughout history. We understand that. We have no problem with freedom of speech, but we had a huge problem in the way the Danish government have dealt with this situation, when they refused to meet with the ambassadors of the Muslim world, when they refused to deal with this situation like the Norwegians have done, when they said: "We do not accept this. We apologize to the Muslim world that this has been done by some of our people, but we have no control over freedom of speech." If they just have said that, then the problem would not have arised. Your government had done a very bad job, and we want to give you that message - that the Danish people have to do something about it, because your government have refused to do anything about it.
But we have a problem when you insult others. You insulted my mother - I would be very angry. And you have insulted somebody that is more sacred to me than my mother and myself. And the claim that it is done in the name of freedom of speech is absolutely unacceptable to us Muslims, because we have seen limitations on the expression of speech within your country and within Europe and the Western world. You have limited the freedom of speech about the Holocaust, and you have limited the freedom of speech when it comes to anti-Semitism. And to us, the prophets - all prophets - and religions - all religions - are sacred more than the Holocaust.
The West have done strategic mistakes. And one of the major mistakes that they have done and they are doing is that they underestimate the power of Islam and the depth of Islam and the Muslim Umma - in the Muslim nation. You have seen in every situation when there is true elections that the people have chosen Islam. You have seen it in Egypt, you have seen it in Palestine, and you will see it everywhere. The West have no chance but to deal with Islam, and we are extending our hands in peace and dialogue - you have slapped it. We do not accept insults. We do not accept that you deal with us without respect.
What do we request? First of all, we request respect and continuation of dialogue. We request - and this is absolutely necessary - an official apology from your government to the Muslim Umma, to the Muslim nation, and to the Muslims in Denmark, because your government has not dealt with them respectfully. And we request, not only from the Danish government, but from the European Union and the world, a law that forbids the insult of religious figures and religious sacred opinions. In the name of freedom of speech this cannot be done.
The boycott for the Danish products will continue until these requests are met. Again, we have no problem with the Danish people. You're a very peaceful country. You're a very peaceful people, very nice, but again, please correct what your government has damaged. Thank you.