It has been 8 years since Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri last visited Denmark and his followers and students have been working hard to organise a tour which would not only benefit the Muslim community in Denmark but also help build bridges between different faiths and youth from various ethnic backgrounds and help de-radicalise some elements of the youth.
Upon the invitation from the New Danish Ethnic Youth Council to speak at the anti-radicalism conference, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri arrived at Copenhagen airport on 4 September 2012 and was greeted by hundreds of followers holding red roses to welcome him to Denmark. The smiles on their faces gave away their deep love and emotions for their leader and how eager they have been to host him. Over the past 8 years they have been working very hard to promote the true moderate vision of Islam and have managed to purchase a beautiful multi-storey building in the heart of Copenhagen to be the Headquarters of Minhaj-ul-Quran International in Denmark. The 6-day tour included a European launch of the historic fatwa on terrorism, a European Peace conference, a mystical music concert or Qawalli, followed by the anti-radicalism conference on 11 September 2012. Other speakers of the 9/11 conference were Mrs Anna MeeAllerslev, Mayor of Copenhagen; Dr Rene Karpantschof, expert on radicalism; Mr JakobScharf, head of Danish Secret Intelligence Service (PET) along with the Federal Minister for Integration, Mrs Karen Haekkerup.
Extremists join hands with anti-Muslim elements
In Denmark few radical extremists have beendeeply disturbed by Dr Qadri’s visit due to his clear stance against radicalism and terrorism and his views on modern democracy, human and women rights and on presenting the true moderate vision of Islam which had previously been unheard of by some in the west. Ever since his arrival they had been busy promoting false accusations against Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri within the Danish Youth Council, government officials as well as amongst the anti-Muslim elements of the media. Their only focus was promulgating the danger of the 11 year old Christian girl being sentenced to death due to the Blasphemy laws of Pakistan. They falsely accused Dr Qadri of having played a role in thepassing this law by advising the then dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq. This false accusation, by an anti-Muslim activist, beganon a blog published on Jyllands-Posten (the notorious Danish Newspaper which published the controversial cartoons) on the day of Dr Qadri’s arrival in Denmark. Following this the extremists approachedjournalists of the local news agency Ritzau to develop this story further and provided them with false information with malicious intent to cancel Dr Qadri’s visit. The journalist published the story with the headlines “Radical Muslim leader gets podium in Denmark” and “Karen Haekkerup accused of participating in the conference with controversial Muslim leader from Pakistan”. Mrs Haekkerup’s (Minister for Integration) initial decision to attend the conference was due to her knowledge of Dr Qadri’s strong stance against radicalism and terrorism. Following the publishing of the articles however she panicked and decided to withdraw by announcing it on Facebook. The media broke the news with the heading “Minister cancels appearance at anti-radicalism conference.”
Interestingly the Danish media hadactually unknowingly created more media attention and importance to Dr Qadri’s visit. Despite the propaganda the head of the secret intelligence service (PET) re-confirmed his commitment to attend the conference; it also gave hope to the Mayor of Copenhagen to re-confirm her participation as well.
Historic welcome & European Fatwa Launch
Meanwhile members, followers and associates of Minhaj-ul-Quran gave a historic welcome reception to their spiritual leader at the HQ of MQI Denmark on Wednesday. The atmosphere was historic and refreshing as a sea of people waited on the road for the car in which he was travelling in to arrive. Due to the overwhelming crowds the car was forced to drive very slowly as it arrived. Dr Qadri was given a tour of the new HQ by the executive of MQI Denmark.
On the morning of the 6 Sept the European Fatwa launch was held at the Marriott Hotel which was attended by various religious and political personalities, journalists, a delegation from Sweden and Norway as well as a large group of young Danish students. Sitting next to religious leaders of the Christian and Jewish faith and counter-extremism experts, Dr Qadri spoke about Islam standing for peace and how the youth are being misguided with misinterpretations of Qur’an andmisconceptions of jihad. He stated that no individual or group has been given the authority to declare jihad, it’s only the prerogative of the state.The Q&A session began with a journalist from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Postenasking Dr Qadri about his views on the Blasphemy Law of Pakistan. Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri replied that he is against the administrative aspect of the law and had called for its reforms on many occasions. He further stated that the Blasphemy Law was in fact revealed to Prophet Moses as stated in the Holy Bible and that Jesus Christ did not repeal it but rather maintained it. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, like Jesus Christ did not repeal it either during his lifetime. As a believer of all three Prophets, Dr Qadri said that he could therefore not go against it. He added that all three religions are in the same boat in this matter. Various references in the Bible were given in to support his argument. Commenting on the media calling him a radical, he said that “Yes I am radical against terrorism, I am radical against extremism” and “I am a democrat and I stand for human rights and women rights.”
A miracle of the media scrum
By midday on 6 September the largest News channel of Denmark approached Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri for a live interview during the prime time 8pm news. The interview exposed the lies of the extremists and anti-Muslim elements. Without commenting on the Ministers cancellation, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri categorically said that he had never been the advisor of Gen Zia-ul-Haq, nor was he member of his cabinet or his parliament. He stated that the judges in Pakistan were sensible and would not convict the 11 year old girl and added if they did then he would go to Pakistan and defend her as her lawyer to save her life. He clearly stated that he was against the practice and procedure of the Blasphemy law and wanted to reform and amend it so that it would not be misused against minorities. He also clarified that his struggle is against extremism, he is a democrat and he stands for interfaith harmony.
As a result of Dr Qadri’s powerful interview on TV2 News the media and the Danish opposition parties’ requested the Minister to explain her position. The question looming was didshe lie about her knowledge of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri or had her Ministry failed to communicate the correct informationto her?
On the blessed Friday the atmosphere in the media changed and many articles were now published in support of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri. The main newspaper Politician published a 2 page story with the title “Islamic World star came in town”. It stated that he had in fact advocated reforms for the proceduralaspects of the Blasphemy laws in Pakistan and that he is was one of the most moderate scholars, calling him a “world champion”. It also criticised the Ministers decision not to attend the conference. Further more this newspaper referred to the support of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the British Prime Minister David Cameron for Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri work at global level.
Mystical concert & European Peace Conference 2012
By the weekend more than 800 members and followers of Minhaj-ul-Quran arrived in Copenhagen from various European countries including Norway, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and UK to attend the spiritual music concert or Qawalli and the European Peace conference which was to be held the next day. By Saturday the debate continued in the media with registration for the anti-radicalism event increasing to almost 500 forcing the organisers to change its venue to a larger hall. Death threats were being made by radicals on the anti-radicalism conference facebook page but still failed to deter Dr Qadri to attend.
In the evening the young French Qawalls sang various melodious Sufi-songs in praise of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, spiritualising over 1200 attendees in front of their spiritual leader and Shaykh. The participants declared that this was the best Qawalli event in Denmark’s history.
On Sunday, the Tivoli Congress Centre of Copenhagen was filled with more than 3000 participants. The newly built building displayed a large digital poster of the “European Peace Conference 2012” with a large photo of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri on each side of the building to show that the world champion was in town. The Christian newspaper of Denmark Kristeligt-Dagblad held a special interview with Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri before the conference. The conference featured the keynote speech by Dr Qadri highlighting the true concept of peace, interfaith and democracy in Islam the way it was practiced by the beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. He gave various examples of the conduct of the Prophet towards the non-Muslims, Jews and Christians quoting various Sahih Hadith. He explained how the first Islamic state was founded on the principles of democracy giving equal rights to women based on humanity and giving religious freedom to all faiths. Dr Qadri pointed out that upon entering Mecca on its conquest the Prophet of Mercy did not take revenge from the Meccans for their cruel behaviour towards him but instead he forgave him.
Radical Extremists & anti-Muslim elements try again
After the successful interview on TV2 News and various positive media coverage the extremists desperately searching for anything to tarnish Dr Qadri finally resorted to falsely accusing him of speaking with “two tongues”. They had put together a short video clip consisting of a small part of the TV2 News interview and a short YouTube clip from the 14 hour speech in which Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri explains the reasons why the comment of Governor Salman Taseer was not blasphemous for which he was murdered. Again anti-Muslim elements attempted to create a media outcry by spreading the short footage to the media. The Danish Minister, the radical-extremists and the media had disastrously failed to understand point; that Dr Qadri was a jurist-consult (advisor) to the “Federal Shariah Court” and not to General Zia; two very different things. He was only summoned by the Federal Shariat Court to give his views on the blasphemy law but it was never taken on board completely because by that time General Zia-ul-Haqhad denied the court the right to complete its judgement on the law and instead he took the whole matter of the Blasphemy law in his own hands for which he was dubbed that he was Islamising the country. If the court was allowed to complete the judgement and Dr Qadri was allowed to complete his arguments then procedural law would have been completely different and would have protected the rights of minorities. And second which is a basic point of law-making that every law has two aspects, a substantive law and procedural law.
During the TV2 News interview, Dr Qadri eloquently explained that there was a difference between the substantive and the procedural aspect of the law. In one lecture he was talking about the substantive aspect and in the second clip he was referring to the procedural aspect; therefore there was absolutely no contradiction in his words.
The pressure from the ministry & opposition
One day before the anti-radicalism conference it appeared that some elements did everything in their power to stop the eventand finally attempted to pressurise the Danish Youth Council and the Danish Ethnic Council to cancel it. On the other hand the main newspaper Politician decided to print a special profile of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri on Friday (14 Sept) and had sent a photographer to travel with him to take photos during his stay in Denmark. Through out the day of the conference TV2 News channels featured Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri’s visit, his views and further two further interviews were confirmed. The second live TV2 News interview appeared just before the anti-radicalism conference where Dr Qadri again clarified that in the earlier interview he referred to the procedural law with which he had major problems with, and in the youtube clip he was actually referring to the substantive law, not the procedural. He further stated that the Blasphemy law is not meant for Denmark and calls for it by radicals was ridiculous; it is only meant for Muslim-majority countries. However he stated that Danish society should respect other democracies, parliaments and laws. He stated that he firmly believed that the Pakistani courts would not convict the 11 year old Christian girl not only because she is a minor suffering from down-syndrome but also because there had not been a single conviction in blasphemy in Pakistan for the last 27 years, since its inception. When confronted with the question as to whether the death penalty should be given to those convicted of the crime of blasphemy, Dr Qadri replied that capital punishment for specific crimes was not only confined to Pakistan but was also practiced in other countries such as the USA, China, Israel and Russia. So it is not a Pakistani phenomenon, but a global one.
The conference finally began with a short speech by the Mayor of Copenhagen followed by an expert on radicalism who explained the reasons behind political radicalism. The PET representative JakobIlum spoke for just 15 minutes and extended the keynote speech of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri who spoke for 45 minutes. Dr Qadri gave a clear strategy on countering radicalism and extremism with various tools of conceptual clarity, correct interpretation of concepts of jihad and khilafah. He clearly rejected the idea that Shariah law should be implemented in Denmark or in any country in the west. He said only the Danish people and the parliament can decide which law they want to follow and Muslim countries and Pakistan should also be free to decide which laws they wish to follow. The TV2 News channel covered the programme throughout with various LIVE transmissions. During the Q&A session Dr Qadri repeated and clarified the concept of law-making and substantive and procedural law.
A miracle to defend the Prophet
The most interesting outcome was that the media outcry and the ministerial scandal actually worked in favour of Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri who was the main discussion point of the major news channels, newspapers as well as the Danish parliament for the whole week. Further more the opposition demanded answers from the government risking the resignation of the Minister in question. The profile of Minhaj-ul-Quran International was in the end raised immensely by the publicity and the eventual positive media coverage and two live interviews. The huge media interest was never expected when Dr Qadri landed in Denmark. In fact the media had initially made it clear that it had no space for Dr Qadri’s visit disheartening the MQI media team who hoped for coverage of these historical events. However,Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri’s faith was not deterredand he said to MQI media team that “things will change by this evening.”
By the next day many were shocked to see how Allah Almighty through the blessings of His beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, could change matters so dramatically in favour of His friend and make him the focal point of the media debate for the whole week. It was only Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri who could clarify misconceptions about Islam and the Blasphemy Law, in a country which printed the despicable and notorious cartoons. It was clear to see that it was no less than a miracle of the Blessed Prophet, peace be upon him, that hehad tasked someone special, Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, to defend him.
Written by Shahid Mursaleen, spokesman of Minhaj-ul-Quran International UK