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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 February 2008, 20:26 GMT
Danish MPs refuse cartoon apology
By Thomas Buch-Andersen
BBC News, Copenhagen

Protesters burn a Danish flag in Pakistan in February
Danish flags have been burnt at demonstrations in the Muslim world
Danish MPs have cancelled a trip to Iran after Tehran demanded they apologise for the republication of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam.

Two days before the scheduled trip, Tehran demanded the MPs condemn the cartoon on their arrival in Iran.

The row follows the arrest on Tuesday of three men for allegedly planning to murder cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

The following day, 11 Danish papers reprinted his drawing depicting the Prophet with a bomb in his turban.

A condemnation and apology would help convince the Iranian people that Denmark's authorities had distanced themselves from the action, Iran's parliament said in a letter to Danish MPs.

If anyone needs to apologise... it is the Iranians
Villy Soevndal,
Danish MP

Nine members of Denmark's foreign affairs committee were due to arrive in Iran on Monday for a three-day trip focusing on human rights and the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme.

"We are not the ones to apologise," said Villy Soevndal, the leader of Denmark's Socialist People's Party.

"If anyone needs to apologise for freedom of speech, human rights, imprisonments, executions and lack of democracy, it is the Iranians."

Denmark's foreign minister has backed the parliamentarians' decision not to travel.

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