London, Riyadh – Asharq Al Awsat – A full-page apology by Jyllands-Posten, which was carried by Asharq al Awsat and other Saudi newspapers on Sunday has caused a huge controversy worldwide. As the story broke, Asharq Al Awsat received a huge number of inquires regarding the apology from various western and international newspapers and television stations, while extremist forums and websites on the internet were swarmed with comments doubting the authenticity of the advert and questioned its relation to Jyllands-Posten.
Jorgen Mikkelsen, co-editor in chief of Jyllands Posten told Asharq al Awsat his newspaper had not placed the adverts or paid for them, but confirmed that the text is what his paper has previously posted online. He indicated that a group of Danish businesses, and possibly Arab, might have paid for ads. No legal action would be taken against those who re-printed the apology, says Mikkelsen explaining that “on the contrary… This is good, as long as no one manipulates our text (of the apology)… It is important people see that we say we are indeed very sorry… The more it is published the better.” Mikkelsen also said that the Danish Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the two texts (on JP’s website and the one carried by the ads) were identical. The original apology of Jyllands Posten appeared on its website www.jp.dk earlier this month, and is still available online.
Meanwhile, an official working with a Danish company operating in Saudi Arabia confirmed to Asharq Al Awsat that a group of Danish businesses, whose profits were slashed after the row over the drawings erupted, last month, had placed the advert in Saudi newspapers. He explains that there was a feeling it is necessary to publicize Jyllands-Posten’s apology in Arabic, after many newspapers across the Arab world had not re-printed it.
Flemming Rose, Jyllands Posten’s culture editor, who commissioned the cartoons sought to clarify his position in an article on the paper’s website and the Sunday edition of The Washington Post, where he said his paper treated all religion equally and that it had previously printed satirical drawings showing Jesus on the cross having dollar notes in his eyes and another with the star of David attached to a bomb fuse, these cartoons were drawn by the same cartoonist who drew the image of the Prophet Muhammad, he explains.