Danish newspaper apologizes
The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten is apologizing, sort of, for a set of cartoons depicting Mohammed -- one of them with a bomb on the prophet's head -- that offended many Muslims, leading to recalls of ambassadors to Denmark, etc.
Under Honourable Fellow Citizens of the Muslim World, Editor-in-Chief Carston Juste writes, in part:
On 30 September last year, Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten published 12 different cartoonists' idea of what the Prophet Mohammed might have looked like. The initiative was taken as part of an ongoing public debate on freedom of expression, a freedom much cherished in Denmark.
In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize.
Since then a number of offensive drawings have circulated in The Middle East which have never been published in Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten and which we would never have published, had they been offered to us. We would have refused to publish them on the grounds that they violated our ethical code."Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten attaches importance to upholding the highest ethical standards based upon the respect of our fundamental values. It is so much more deplorable, therefore, that these drawings were presented as if they had anything to do with Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten.
Maybe because of culturally based misunderstandings, the initiative to publish the 12 drawings has been interpreted as a campaign against Muslims in Denmark and the rest of the world.
I must categorically dismiss such an interpretation. Because of the very fact that we are strong proponents of the freedom of religion and because we respect the right of any human being to practise his or her religion, offending anybody on the grounds of their religious beliefs is unthinkable to us.
Yes, but anyone who has even half an eye open in this world knows that because of those cultural differences, Islam is much less tolerant of off-kilter depictions of the prophet. So dismissing it as "maybe because of culturally based misunderstandings" is a bit weak. If anything, the misunderstanding was on the newspaper's part. Moral: Being culturally ignorant these days is no longer a good way to survive in the news business.
Update: Here is a link to an entire blog devoted to the controversy.