|BERLIN, Sept. 27 — With all the issues dividing Muslims and Germans, there was one point on which all 30 participants in a landmark Islamic conference agreed here today, its German organizer said.
They would like to see the Deutsche Oper of Berlin reinstate the Mozart opera it canceled earlier this week for fear that the production — which features a scene with the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad — would offend Muslims and put the opera house at risk.
The 30 representatives — drawn equally from the government and Germany’s Muslim population — could even go see the opera together, said Wolfgang Schäuble, the German interior minister, who organized and was chairman of the conference in an 18th-century baroque palace.
Mr. Schauble’s suggestion, at a news conference after the session, was an attempt to prevent the public uproar over the cancellation of Mozart’s “Idomeneo” from derailing this gathering, which was supposed to demonstrate Germany’s resolve to reach out to its more than three million Muslims, and to discuss basic differences on issues like women’s rights and Islamic lessons in public schools.
“We have, in a very tolerant tone, laid out quite different positions,” Mr. Schäuble said. “That was the point.”
In some ways, the tempest over the opera energized the conference — underlining the urgency and complexity of the issues facing Germany, as it seeks to integrate a Muslim population that is growing in size and, in the view of some, growing further apart from mainstream German society.
“There was general agreement that we would like to see the opera come back,” said Mehmet Yildrim, the secretary-general of the Turkish-Islamic Union. “But there were different perspectives on the issue.”
The conference, which had been planned soon after Angela Merkel was elected chancellor last fall, comes at a time of heightened debate here over whether Germans have been too quick to compromise their values in the face of anger, or merely the threat of anger, among Muslims.
Even before the cancellation of the opera, there were misgivings here about the repeated expressions of regret by Pope Benedict XVI, a German, for his sharply criticized remarks about Islam and violence.
Today, Mrs. Merkel added her voice to a chorus of political and cultural leaders, who have criticized the Deutsche Oper for canceling “Idomeneo” after receiving word of an anonymous threat.
“I think the cancellation was a mistake,” she said to reporters. “Self-censorship does not help us against people who want to practice violence in the name of Islam. It makes no sense to retreat.”
Officials in Berlin said today that they would like to stage “Idomeneo” as soon as possible. The director of the Deutsche Oper, Kirsten Harms, said she could imagine bringing back the production at some point, provided she could resolve its political and diplomatic implications.|