Jerusalem. Either the Organisation of Islamic Conference withdraws its proposal to make criticism of religion equivalent to racism, or the Western countries shall stay away from the UN conference on racism, Durban II. This is the message of the Danish foreign minister Per Stig Møller to his Arab partners during a round trip to the Middle East. "If the OIC pushes through this draft resolution, they shall not expect European or Western countries to be present at the table", said the minister of foreign affairs at a press conference in Jerusalem this evening.
According to Per Stig Møller, he has given the same message to, amongst others, the Syrian minister of foreign affairs Walid al-Moualem and the Egyptian minister of foreign affairs Ahmed Aly Ahmed Abul Gheit, both of whom the Danish minister has met on his round trip to Syria, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian areas on the West Bank.
Durban II was also discussed Sunday evening in Cairo during a dinner with Amr Moussa, chairman of the League of Arab States.
"I have explained the Danish point of view, which is that we cannot accept that religion be conflated with racism. You can be a Muslim no matter your race," said Per Stig Møller.
The Durban II conference, a follow-up to the United Nations' conference on racism in 2001, is scheduled to take place in April 2009. Advance criticism has been hard, and intellectuals as well as many politicians have openly demanded a boycott of the conference.