Denmark denies apologising for Motoon reprint

Denmark’s foreign minister, Lene Espersen, has denied reports in Arab media that she apologised for the reprinting of Motoons.

The Egyptian Gazette had misinterpreted Espersen’s conciliatory platitudes as an apology.

I can clearly deny that I have given an apology…But I can confirm that I have said that freedom of expression is not so extensive that it would not have any limits.

Last week Jyllands-Posten arts editor Flemming Rose published a book about the Danish Motoons affair which included several of the drawings. In a meeting with Egypt’s Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb Espersen said that she found it regrettable that many people were offended by the cartoons. This is the exact statement:

The Danish government is well aware that many people felt deeply hurt by the cartoons. I would like once again to make it clear that this is something we find regrettable, and do not wish to see repeated.

I would like to make it clear that the Danish government respects Islam as one of the World’s major religions and we condemn any attempt to demonize groups of people on the basis of their religion or ethnic background.

Under the Danish constitution, every citizen has the right to express himself within the limits of the law without interference from the government.

This standard “sorry you were offended” response – which Danish politicians have been using consistently since 2006 – was rehashed by the Sheik, who claimed that Espersen had “renewed her country’s apology for the publication of these cartoons and pointed out Denmark’s efforts to issue a law criminalising contempt of religions.”

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