Dublin Muslims protest over video

The organisers of a Muslim protest march in Dublin against an anti-Islamic video and series of cartoons have described the demonstration…

The organisers of a Muslim protest march in Dublin against an anti-Islamic video and series of cartoons have described the demonstration as “very successful.”

A group of about 200 to 300 demonstrators participated in a peaceful march from St Stephen's Green to the American and French embassies.

Earlier this month violent protests erupted across the Middle-East after a video depicting the prophet Muhammad as a fraud went viral on the internet.

Subsequent depictions of Muhammad by a French satirical magazine drew widespread condemnation from across the Muslim world.

Khurram Khan, one of the organisers of the Dublin protest, said the demonstration was not political and insisted that the marchers did not represent any Islamic groups.

He added that Muslims in Ireland had been waiting for "someone to take the initiative" and organise a protest. Irish-based Imams refused to organise a demonstration because they feared it would be poorly received, he said.

The organisers intended the demonstration to be silent, but chants of "USA, you must pay!" and "There is no God but Allah!" started almost immediately after the march got under way.

"We tried our best to keep it silent but the people have emotions as well," Mr Khan said afterwards.

Abdul Haseeb, former editor of Irish Muslim magazine, said he went on the march to ensure it didn't descend into violence, but added that he disagreed with the protest.

Although he endorsed the message, he said these types of demonstrations alienate wider society. Lobbying politicians and the media, he believed, would have been more effective.

"Pressure would have changed things."

The demonstration passed by the US embassy without much incident. Some elements of the group made hand gestures at the building and shouted "USA! Shame! Shame!" but were quickly moved on by organisers.

The embassy later released a short statement saying "we respect the right to protest and freedom of expression."

The scene was much the same outside the French embassy, which later said it welcomed "the spirit of responsibility shown by protestors."

The marchers were overwhelmingly male, with only a tiny number of women among them.

Mr Khan said "there were lots of women interested but we tried to stop them. The only reason being with the weather conditions and with the women with the children, they might face some problems with the weather."

One of the few women present, Gulgona Rashid, who was there with her husband, Tahir, said she was very proud to be on the march but admitted it "would be nice to see a few more women coming along."

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin is an Irish Times journalist