Danish FM meets top Muslim cleric to defuse cartoon tension

Last Updated: Thursday, October 14, 2010 - 11:45

Cairo: Denmark`s foreign minister said Thursday that the hurt caused to Muslims from cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed was "very regrettable," after she met Egypt`s top cleric to defuse tensions caused by the re-publication of the caricatures.

Lene Espersen said she and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar,
Ahmed al-Tayeb, discussed "how to make sure that the great
religions of the world can live peacefully side by side."

The meeting followed the publication last last month of a
book carrying the caricatures, entitled "The Tyranny of
Silence."

The 499-page book does not reprint the drawings
separately, but its inside pages features "a picture of the
front page of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper that had the
Mohammed cartoons on it," its editor said.

Espersen had met Muslim ambassadors ahead of its release
on the fifth anniversary of the cartoons` publication in the
daily Jyllands-Postens, which led to deadly riots in Muslim
countries several months later.

Espersen, speaking in English at a press conference in
Tayeb`s offices in Cairo, did not mention the book, but said
that she understood that "many people living in the Muslim
world felt deeply hurt by cartoons that were in Denmark some
years ago."

"I would just like to make it clear that this was
something we found very regrettable and didn`t wish to see it
repeated," she said.
"The Danish government respects all religious creeds and
communities and condemns any attempt to demonise groups of
people on the basis of religion or their ethnic background."

Tayeb told reporters after the meeting "we have confirmed
that what happened was an individual action and the people and
government of Denmark are against it and do not accept it."
The Danish government refused to apologise for the
cartoons, one of which depicted the Prophet Mohammed with a
lit bomb in his turban, citing freedom of the press.

The drawings sparked protests in January and February
2006 that culminated in the torching of Danish diplomatic
offices in Damascus and Beirut, and the death of dozens of
people in Nigeria.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, October 14, 2010 - 11:45

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