Norway editor apologizes for reprinting cartoons
Updated Fri. Feb. 10 2006 10:02 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
The editor of a small Christian newspaper in Norway has apologized for offending Muslims by reprinting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad last month.
Magazine editor Vebjoern Selbekk told a news conference Friday that he regretted publishing the cartoons and had not foreseen the pain and anger they might cause Muslims.
"I reach out personally to the Muslim community to say that I am sorry that their religious feelings were violated by what we did," Selbekk told reporters.
"It is also only right for me to admit that I, as the editor, did not understand how offensive it was to publish the copies."
The Evangelical Christian newspaper was among the first newspapers to reprint the drawings that were first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, saying it was defending free speech.
The drawings, now widely reprinted in Europe and elsewhere, have caused violent protests in the Muslim world, including the burning of the Norwegian and Danish embassies in Syria.
Selbekk made his apology at a hastily called news conference, where he appeared with the leader of the Islamic Council in Norway, Mohammed Hamdan, and Norwegian Labour Minister Bjarne Haakon Hanssen.
The newspaper editor praised the Norwegian Islamic community for insisting on dialogue rather than violence in its response to the cartoons.
"The Muslim community has handled this in a worthy and reserved manner. They deserve honour and respect for that," Selbekk said.
Hamdan stressed that Islam values forgiveness and that Selbekk, who has received scores of death threats, was now under his protection.
"Selbekk has children the same age as my own. I want my children and his children to grow up together, and live in peace and friendship," Hamdan said.
Meanwhile, Islamic scholar and activist Ahmed Akkari, who lives in Denmark, denied that his campaigning activities had inflamed the situation.
Appearing on Canada AM, Akkari, of the European Committee for Honouring the Prophet, said he had tried to campaign peacefully against the publishing of the cartoons in Denmark, but received no response.
"We wrote to the minister of culture, we wrote and talked to the newspaper, trying to explain what's wrong," he told AM Friday.
"We tried to take contact to officials, and nobody even bothered to give any answer on our problem."
Akkari said he was against the violence that has gripped Muslim countries across world.
"We do not feel that we are being held responsible for some things we are against, for example, this violence that has been shown on TV lately and violent acts against Danish citizens. We have condemned it very clearly," he said.