The drawings sparked Muslim protests against DenmarkImage: picture-alliance/dpa
February 26, 2010
Danish daily Politiken, one of the papers that reprinted contentious cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad originally published in 2005, has apologized to Muslims for causing offense. The move has been widely criticized.
Politiken is the first Danish newspaper to offer an apology to Muslims who were offended by what they deem disrespectful drawings of the Prophet Muhammad.
"We apologize to anyone who was offended by our decision to reprint the cartoon drawing," the newspaper said in a statement on Friday.
The paper has published an agreement with eight organizations from Australia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian territories, representing 94,923 descendants of the Muslim prophet.
Despite the apology, Politiken says it does not regret printing the cartoons, but that it was sorry it had offended some Muslims.
"We deplore that Muslims were offended, even if that was not our intention," editor-in-chief Toeger Seidenfaden said.
In August last year, 11 Danish newspapers were approached by Faisal Yamani, the lawyer who represents the descendants, with demands that the cartoons be removed from the Internet.
Yamani also wanted an apology and a promise that the cartoons would not be printed again. But Politiken has reserved the right to reprint the cartoons.
Move draws criticism
Politiken's move has been widely criticized in Denmark.
"It's a sad day for Danish media, it's sad for freedom of expression, and it's sad for Politiken," the chief editor of Jyllands-Posten, Joern Mikkelsen, wrote. His paper had first published the cartoons in 2005.
Politicians also condemned the move. Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen told Danish TV that the apology could be seen as "a break with the cohesion that existed in the media and in Danish society."
The most controversial of the 12 drawings was created by Danish cartoonist Knut Westergaard, and showed the prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a lit fuse.
The cartoons' publication sparked a wave of protests among Muslims in Syria, Beirut, Nigeria, Sudan and other countries with large Muslim populations.
Politiken and 19 other Danish media decided to reprint the cartoons in 2008, after an attack on Westergaard by angered Muslims.