At least people can change. Sometimes they change for the worse, but not always. Hang on to that thought when despair about humanity threatens.

Ahmad Akkari has changed for the better.

A Danish Muslim leader who seven years ago travelled the Muslim world fuelling the uproar over newspaper caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad is back in the headlines in Denmark after doing an about-face on the issue.

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.

(Stupid Guardian. Even in an article about the guy who led the campaign that triggered “fiery protests in Muslim countries,” the Graun is still using that stupid inaccurate stock-phrase “the Danish cartoons, which sparked fiery protests.” Imbecile Guardian. The cartoons did not spark the fiery protests, you buffoons. Pay attention to what you write.)

Akkari, now 35, was the spokesman for a group of imams who led the protests against the drawings in Denmark. They travelled to Lebanon, Egypt and Syria to elicit support, saying the Danish government wouldn’t listen to their concerns.

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.

That group of imams and their spokesman got people killed. The cartoons didn’t do it. People deliberately stoking outrage about the cartoons did it. Sometimes outrage has to be stoked, but this was not one of those times, and the stoking got people killed.

“I want to be clear today about the trip: It was totally wrong,” Akkari said 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.”

He said he’s still a practising 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.

That is a change for the better. A practicing Muslim is one thing and an Islamist is another.

Akkari now says printing the drawings was OK and that his reaction at the time was wrong. Last week he apologised in person to one of the cartoonists, Kurt Westergaard, who has faced multiple death threats and murder attempts from extremists. Many Muslims consider Westergaard’s drawing, which depicts Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban, as the most offensive.

“I met a man who has converted from being an Islamist to become a humanist who understands the values of our society,” Westergaard said of Akkari. “To me, he is really sincere, convincing and strong in his views.”

People can change. For the better.



  1. Duckrabbit says

    It wasn’t just about the cartoons. What about the false claims of oppression of Muslims in Europe that were made by Akkari’s traveling circus?

  2. says

    I was annoyed by that Guardian piece as well because there was no mention of the three extra cartoons they added to the stoking, which were designed to be more offensive than the original Danish ones. You’re right about this irritating cause and effect – it’s sloppy and lazy.

    Blogged about it here:-

    One of the commenters says:-

    His unexpected change of heart has received praise from pundits and politicians in recent weeks, though some question his sincerity. It has also disappointed some in the country’s Muslim minority who were deeply offended by the cartoons.

    I think there’s a good deal of projection here. The Guardian makes much of the idea of a fundamentally reasonable Islam, eager to have peaceful dialogue and show tolerance etc., and that the problem comes largely or overwhelmingly from non-Muslims. But that is not merely highly questionable; it’s also a superficial and dishonest posture on the part of the Guardian’s.

    Whenever Muslims do make steps towards the above, the Guardian can barely hide its own sense of disappointment. It tore into Palestinian politicians who had been secretly talking with their israeli counterparts. It has no time for Muslim secularists, preferring instead to give a platform to Islamists who argue Israel should be destroyed, and that execution for apostasy is justifiable. As for Akkiri, he’s really let them down. He should still be complaining about insults to Islam, so that the Guardian could still be tutting sympathetically on his side.

    The Guardian is dedicated to fanning the flames of Muslim grievance (real or imagined); it can’t bear to see them die down or be actively dampened for one moment.

    It’s poor and dishonest journalism to omit the rather salient fact that several of the cartoons were the work not of the Danish cartoonists but by the grievance-mongering Imam’s themselves. But then, that’s the Guardian for you. It finds it very hard to give the whole picture if that picture could reveal an inconvenient truth.

  3. sailor1031 says

    it’s also a superficial and dishonest posture on the part of the Guardian’s.

    Ah yes. Dog (not doG) bites man. Definitely no news there.

  4. stewart says

    rosiebell’s concern was also what I immediately wanted to check. There was real fraud going on with those extra cartoons and that wasn’t mentioned. Dishonest journalism.

  5. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Good luck to Akkari, after making such a statement. It is impressive to see someone change their mind like that, and make it a public announcement to boot.

  6. Stacy says

    And today on Pharyngula there’s a comment from a former domestic abuser who’s faced up to his past and the rationalizations he once used to justify his behavior.

    People can change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *