February 19, 2006

Saudi papers publish Danish paper’s cartoon apology

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian newspapers on Sunday
printed an apology by the Danish paper whose cartoons
lampooning the Prophet Mohammad have sparked deadly protests
around the world.

"Allow me in the name of Jyllands-Posten to apologize for
what happened and declare my strong condemnation of any step
that attacks specific religions, ethnic groups and peoples. I
hope that with this I have removed the misunderstanding," wrote
Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands-Posten.

The full-page advertisements appeared in Asharq al-Awsat,
which is printed around the Arab world, as well as the local
al-Riyadh and al-Jazira.

They were dated February 5, but an advertising spokesman at
al-Riyadh said it may have taken time for the papers, which are
close to the government, to approve the announcement.

In recent days, 16 people have died in Nigeria and 11 in
Libya during violent protests against cartoons published by the
Danish paper last September and since republished in several,
mainly European papers.

The global uproar over the cartoons came after Saudi Arabia
recalled its ambassador from Denmark last month in response to
pressure from clerics and a popular campaign against Danish
products in the kingdom, the site of Islam's holiest shrines.

"It is extremely important to point out that the aim behind
these cartoons was not to attack the Prophet at all or devalue
him, but as an opening to dialogue on freedom of expression,"
Sunday's apology said.

"We did not realize at the time how sensitive this issue
was for Muslims in Denmark or millions of Muslims around the

The adverts included a previously published statement from
the Danish embassy in Riyadh declaring respect for Islam.