Danish daily Politiken on Friday apologized to Muslims for possibly offending them by reproducing cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in 2008, but said it did not regret publishing the drawings.
“We apologise to anyone who was offended by our decision to reprint the cartoon drawing,” the newspaper said in a statement.
Politiken is the first Danish newspaper to formally apologize to those who may have resented the publication of the cartoons. On Friday, it published an agreement reached with eight organizations from Australia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian territories representing 94,923 descendants of the Muslim prophet. In the agreement Politiken said it regretted if it had insulted Muslims’ faith, but that it did not regret publishing the drawings and that it did not renounce the right to publish the controversial drawings again.
The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Toeger Seindenfaden, said he was happy with the outcome.
“We deplore that Muslims were offended even if that was not our intention,” he told reporters.
Friday’s agreement emerged from an Aug. 28 request made by a Saudi lawyer, Faisal Ahmed Zaki Yamani, to 11 Danish newspapers.
He had asked the newspapers to apologize, promise they would not republish the drawings, and remove the controversial cartoons from their Web sites.
Politiken’s apology was widely condemned by Danish politicians, who charged that the paper had caved in to pressure and had sacrificed freedom of expression, which is considered a cornerstone of Danish democracy.
A number of other Danish newspapers also condemned the apology, but said they would not republish the cartoons.
Jyllands-Posten, which first published the 12 caricatures of Mohammed in September 2005, blasted Politiken’s decision.
“It’s a sad day for Danish media, it’s sad for freedom of expression and it’s sad for Politiken,” Jyllands-Posten chief editor Joern Mikkelsen wrote.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said he refused to get involved, citing “the freedom of expression and respect for editorial decisions.” He did, however, tell TV2 news he was concerned that the apology could be seen as “a break with the cohesion that existed in the media and in Danish society.”
The cartoons, including one that featured Prophet Mohammed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse, angered many Muslims worldwide and sparked angry protests in January and February 2006.
The protests culminated with the torching of Danish diplomatic offices in Damascus and Beirut and the death of dozens of people in Nigeria.
In 2008, around 20 Danish newspapers, including Politiken, reproduced the drawings following a failed attack against one of the cartoonists, sparking further protests in a number of Muslim countries, including Sudan, Egypt, Pakistan and Indonesia.