Page last updated at 18:45 GMT, Friday, 26 February 2010

Danish paper apologises for printing Muhammad cartoon

Kurt Westergaard Sept 2006
Kurt Westergaard's cartoons have been widely reprinted

A Danish newspaper has apologised for any offence caused when it reprinted a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban in 2008.

Politiken said it was apologising as part of a settlement with Muslim groups in the Middle East and Australia.

Other Danish newspapers criticised Politiken for its move.

Twelve cartoons of Muhammad were initially published in 2006, sparking widespread protests by Muslims in various countries.

Politiken - and other papers - republished one in 2008 when police uncovered an alleged plot to kill cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Politiken's pathetic prostrating before a Saudi lawyer takes the first prize in stupidity
Joern Mikkelse
Editor-in-chief of Jyllands-Posten

Editor-in-chief Toeger Seidenfaden said on Friday: "We apologise to anyone who was offended by our decision to reprint the cartoon drawing."

He told the Associated Press (AP) news agency that the paper still had the right to publish.

"We have the right to print Kurt Westergaard's drawings, we have the right to print the original 12 drawings, we have the right to print all the caricatures in the world," he said.

"We apologise for the offence which the reprint has caused. That is what we apologise for."

The editor-in-chief of Jyllands-Posten, the paper which originally published the cartoons, was highly critical of Politiken.

Joern Mikkelse said: "Politiken's pathetic prostrating before a Saudi lawyer takes the first prize in stupidity."

In 2006 Jyllands-Posten apologised for the offence caused by the drawings, but other European media reprinted them.

Speech setback

Danish embassies were then attacked by Muslims around the world and dozens killed in riots.

On Friday, the Danish Union of Journalists described Politiken as "kneeling before opponents of the freedom of press."

Mr Westergaard expressed disappointment: "I fear this is a setback for the freedom of speech," AP reported him as saying.

He went into hiding after publication amid threats to his life, but emerged in 2009 saying he wanted to live as normal a life as possible.

His house has been heavily fortified and is under close police protection, but on 1 January 2010 a Somali man was charged with trying to kill him.

The suspect, was shot by police outside Mr Westergaard's home in the city of Aarhus after he allegedly broke into the house armed with an axe and a knife.

Police say the suspect, who denies the charge, has links with Somali Islamist militants.

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