Saudi papers publish Danish paper's cartoon apology

RIYADH - 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 apologise 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 Feb. 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 realise at the time how sensitive this issue was for Muslims in Denmark or millions of Muslims around the world."

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

- REUTERS

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