Schalke song row defused

BERLIN - A controversy over whether the club anthem of a German football club insulted the Prophet Mohammed appeared to have been defused yesterday by the one of the country's largest Muslim associations.

BERLIN - A controversy over whether the club anthem of a German football club insulted the Prophet Mohammed appeared to have been defused yesterday by the one of the country's largest Muslim associations.

The controversy blew up on Tuesday when it emerged that Schalke 04, a Bundesliga side, had received a flurry of e-mails protesting against a line in its club song that mentioned Mohammed. The line goes something like "Mohammed was a prophet who understood nothing about football, but from all the blaze of colour he picked the blue and white," which is the team's home strip.

However, yesterday, Aiman Mazyek, general secretary of the Central Muslim Council said that: "We should take the whole thing with humour. There is really no blasphemy or mockery in the song," he told the German Press Agency DPA.

According to a Schalke spokesperson, the club had received 350 e-mails, some threatening, saying that the song was insulting to Islam.

Some Muslim fans of Schalke, which is a highly popular team from the industrial city of Gelsenkirchen, had threatened to withdraw their club membership in protest.

Mazyek linked the reaction to the song to the July 1 murder of a Muslim woman in a courtroom in Dresden by a right-wing extremist. "After the terrible murder. the Muslim community is unsettled and afraid," he said.

"Naturally, Mohammed lived long before there was any football. He probably would have laughed about it as well," Mazyek said. - Sapa-DPA

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