COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – The Muslim group that spearheaded criticism of a Danish newspaper for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad said Tuesday it accepted the paper’s apology.
The publication of cartoons deemed insulting to Islam’s prophet in the Jyllands-Posten sparked widespread anger in the Muslim world, including boycotts of Danish products. The newspaper published an apology late Monday.
Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said his government could not apologize on behalf of a newspaper, but said he personally “never would have depicted Muhammad, Jesus or any other religious character in a way that could offend other people.”
A spokesman for Denmark’s Islamic Faith Community, Kasem Ahmad, said on Danish radio Tuesday that “we will clearly and articulately thank the prime minister and Jyllands-Posten for what they have done.”
At a news conference Tuesday, Fogh Rasmussen said “I am pleased to note that this apology has been received positively by Muslim communities in Denmark and that they have pledged support for our efforts.”
It was not immediately clear whether the newspaper’s apology and the statements of the prime minister and Ahmad would defuse the anger that arose in Muslim countries, however.
Fogh Rasmussen called on all sides to refrain from further aggravating the dispute. “I call on all parties to abstain from any statements that they will create further tensions in Denmark as well in other countries. We must do our utmost to get back to the dialogue and build on the friendship that has always characterized the relations between Denmark and the Muslim world,” he said in English-language comments.
“I do hope that the apology (by the newspaper) will contribute to comfort those who have been hurt,” he said. “I would like to emphasize that the Danish government condemns any expression, action or indication that attempts to demonize groups on the basis of their religion or ethnic background.”
Denmark-based dairy group Arla Foods, which was especially hard-hit by boycotts in the Middle East, welcomed the latest developments.
“We are eagerly waiting to see the effect of the prime minister’s television appearance and the daily’s apology,” spokeswoman Astrid Gade Nielsen said. “We also have noted the statement from the Muslim group.”