Danish Step Over Cartoons Eases Muslim Anger

Per Bech Thomsen, Reuters, Jan. 4, 2006

Muslim leaders welcomed steps by Denmark on Wednesday to defuse a diplomatic row over newspaper cartoons that seemed to portray Prophet Mohammad as a terrorist.

A Muslim community spokesman and Egypt’s ambassador in Copenhagen welcomed Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s New Year address, in which he defended free speech but urged Danes to exercise the right without inciting hatred against Muslims.

Rasmussen’s conciliatory words, which Copenhagen translated into Arabic and distributed to Middle Eastern countries, came after Arab foreign ministers last week condemned the Danish government for not acting against the Jyllands-Posten daily.

Denmark’s largest newspaper ran 12 cartoons of Prophet Mohammad last September, including one in which he seems to be carrying a bomb in his turban. Islam considers images of Prophet Mohammad disrespectful and caricatures blasphemous.

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Ahmad said he still wanted an official apology from the newspaper, but Jyllands-Posten’s editor-in-chief Carsten Juste rejected the call.

“We can’t apologize for the drawings. We live under Danish law and freedom of speech,” he said. “But we didn’t mean to offend anyone.”

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