American Muslims Give Moderate Voice amid Cartoon Violence

Some 7,000 students marched in protest on Monday to a Christian university in northwestern Pakistan, breaking windows as police shot tear gas at the crowd. The protest followed a larger peaceful rally involving at least 30,000 people in southeast Turkey on Sunday along with more indignant chants in Istanbul where crowds shouted "Down with the USA" and "Down with Denmark."

Meanwhile, American Muslims have not joined the violent protests over the cartoons of Muhammad, calling such action bigotries and offensive to the Islam's prophet and trying to mediate between European Muslims and the West, according to The New York Times.

Leaders of national organizations and two mosques called for Muslims in Europe and the Middle East to stop the violence "because the Prophet Muhammad would never have approved, and [they] are playing into the stereotype of Muslims as barbarians." The leaders have also expressed concerns at the Washington embassies of European nations, saying the governments should condemn the cartoons as hateful and bigoted.

Amid the violent response in the last couple of weeks that erupted after several Western newspapers reprinted caricatures of Muhammad, following the Danish daily in September, a more united and moderate voice was called for.

"In the past, community here has been divided, and this had made it difficult to speak with one voice," said Abdul Wahid Pedersen, an influential imam in Denmark, according to the Times.

"It is important in a crisis like this that moderate voices in the community are heard," he added, pointing to the American Muslims as models to follow.

The violence that national and religious heads condemned have some Muslim American leaders feeling anguished over the outbursts.

"It hurts us when people attack embassies, because it reinforces the image that we were protesting in the first place, which is that Muslims are violent," said Azeem Khan, assistant secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North America, according to the Times.

The cartoon controversy is expected to be addressed during a White House meeting between U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.S. President George W. Bush today, both of whom have called for an end to violence.