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Quote: PARIS, April 29 - How much weight does a bearded mullah carry in a freewheeling liberal society like Norway's?
The country's well-known Muslim comic, Shabana Rehman, decided to find out Tuesday when she lifted the founder of Iraq's Ansar al-Islam terrorist group off the ground before a startled audience.
"If a small woman like me can lift him up, he can't be dangerous," Ms. Rehman said Thursday by telephone from northern Norway.
The cleric, known as Mullah Krekar, did not find the stunt funny. He went up smiling but was sputtering with rage by the time Ms. Rehman set him back down.
"I do not have the right to carry her like that and she has no right to carry or touch me," he exclaimed into his microphone. He vowed to sue and demanded that photographs of the stunt be destroyed.
But the Norwegian television station TV2 broadcast a videotape of the 5-foot-4 Ms. Rehman hoisting the portly preacher, her arms around his thighs. The country's news media gave the story ample coverage.
Many commentators reproached Ms. Rehman for humiliating Mullah Krekar and insulting his religious beliefs, which prohibit contact between unmarried men and women. Others championed what they saw as a political act to challenge conservative Islamic attitudes toward women.
Tuesday's incident took place at an Oslo nightclub called Smuget where Mullah Krekar was appearing to promote his new memoir, "In My Own Words." The mullah has won over many critics in Norway with his jovial, friendly manner. At the nightclub on Tuesday, he took part in a panel discussion after which Ms. Rehman, known for her parodies of conservative Islamic teachings, asked Mullah Krekar if he would submit to a "fundamentalist test." The mullah agreed but was taken by surprise when the comic suddenly lifted him in the air.
Ms. Rehman has lifted men in performances before, including several prominent Norwegians. Some found it funny; some were embarrassed.
Mullah Krekar's lawyer, Brynjar Meling, said the cleric planned to file a complaint with the police. On Thursday, his brother said the mullah would not press charges if Ms. Rehman apologized.
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