The head of the Danish Islamic Center says that a “misunderstanding” is behind the belief that Islam forbids the depiction of the prophet Muhammad.
“Nowhere in the Koran does it say that one cannot portray the prophet Muhammad. The prophet has always been drawn in both Western and Muslim literature throughout the centuries,” Fatih Alev told public broadcaster DR.
“I’ve noticed that Muslims generally have the impression that they should be against these cartoons [such as the ones in Charlie Hebdo and Jyllands-Posten, ed.] because the prophet is being shown and that cannot be allowed. But it is a misunderstanding,” he continued.
Alev said that even if Muslims interpret the Koran as being against portrayals of Muhammad, those rules should only apply to Muslims themselves.
“Just like the ban on pork and the consumption of alcohol, the ban on depictions is also only something that affects Muslims. Non-Muslims are free to do whatever they want,” the Danish Islamic Center chairman told DR.
Despite that, he said it was “very easy” to see why so many Muslims were upset by the Charlie Hebdo and Jyllands-Posten depictions.
“The prophet Muhammad has always been drawn throughout history, but the new thing is that the prophet is being depicted in a negative mode with the intention to insult and that’s why people react so strongly,” he said.