Ahmad Akkari: Former Islamist Now Supports Free Speech?
The Washington Post has recently published an AP report, "In surprise reversal, Danish Muslim leader regrets role in rage over Muhammad cartoons" (August 9, 2013), in which Ahmad Akkari speaks of his changing views on Islamism:
Danish Muslim leader [Ahmad Akkari] . . . seven years ago traveled the Muslim world fueling the uproar over newspaper caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad . . . . [by acting as] a leading critic of the Danish cartoons . . . [and by sparking] fiery protests in Muslim countries [and serving as] . . . . the spokesman for a group of imams who led the protests against the drawings in Denmark [when they] traveled to Lebanon, Egypt and Syria to elicit support, saying the Danish government wouldn't listen to their concerns.I think most of us remember that Islamist violence threatening free speech in the West. Interestingly, Akkari himself now opposes the views he held at that time:
Their journeys helped turn the dispute into an international crisis. Dozens were killed in weeks of protests that included violent attacks against Danish missions in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Lebanon. Tiny Denmark found itself on a collision course with the Muslim world.
"I want to be clear today about the trip: It was totally wrong," Akkari told The Associated Press this week. "At that time, I was so fascinated with this logical force in the Islamic mindset that I could not see the greater picture. I was convinced it was a fight for my faith, Islam."Akkari now apparently supports free speech:
He said he's still a practicing Muslim but started doubting his fundamentalist beliefs after a 2007 trip to Lebanon, where he met Islamist leaders.
"I was shocked. I realized what an oppressive mentality they have," Akkari said.
Once a leading critic of the Danish cartoons, which sparked fiery protests in Muslim countries, Lebanese-born Ahmad Akkari now says the Jyllands-Posten newspaper had the right to print them.Why the about-face? In his visit to Lebanon, he encountered Islamists even more radical than he was, and he probably realized that any disagreement with them would be settled through violence rather than dialogue, which likely gave him perspective on his own role as an oppressive Islamist opposed to a free society.
But I'm merely guessing . . .