EU convenes meeting on cartoons controversy

Austria’s foreign minister said today that an emergency meeting with her Danish counterpart and leading representatives of the international Islamic community had made progress on diffusing tensions over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency, gave no details of the meeting at her ministry, saying only that it had taken place in a positive and open atmosphere.

“We can’t do more today than send a signal,” she told reporters.

Those in attendance included Danish foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, Syria’s grand mufti, Sheik Ahmed Badr-Eddine Hassoun, Mustafa Ceric, head of the Islamic community in Bosnia, and Danish bishop Steen Skovsgaard.

The head of Austria’s Islamic community, Anas Schakfeh, was also present.

The drawings, first published by a Danish newspaper, sparked at times violent protests in Muslim countries.

Muslims in some European nations have also taken to the streets in recent weeks. Islam widely holds that representations of Mohammed are banned for fear they could lead to idolatry.

Plassnik said that recent attacks on European embassies, including the Danish and Austrian embassies in Tehran, were unacceptable.

The meeting, Plassnik said, also focused on reaching out to young people, adding that attempts would be made to work with the United Nations on this front.

“Islam is a part of our reality,” Plassnik said.

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