Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Q&A with the Danish Foreign Ministry

The Danish Foreign Ministry answers some questions regarding the Prophet Muhammad cartoons that have angered so many Muslims around the world.

Q:Why did the issue of the 12 drawings of the Prophet Muhammad arise?

A: On 30 September 2005 the privately owned Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims around the world have – understandably – felt hurt and offended by the newspaper’s drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. Moreover, governments and parliaments in several Arab and Muslim countries as well as the Organisation of Islamic Conference and the Arab League have in declarations criticised the caricatures and deemed the response of the Danish government insufficient.

In some contexts the issue has unfortunately been portrayed as if the drawings were part and parcel of a smear campaign against Muslims. In the Arab press the image is sometimes erroneously given that Denmark is Islamophobic. This is naturally not the case. The Danish Government respects Islam as one of the world’s major religions. It has no wish and no agenda to insult, mock or in any other way behave disrespectfully towards Muslims. We do not in any way support or orchestrate a smear campaign against Muslims.

Q: Will the Danish Government apologize for the 12 drawings of the Prophet Muhammad?

A: On 30 January the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on public television stated that he respected other people’s faith and that he would personally never depict the Prophet Muhammad in a way that could insult other people. He was very pleased with the unequivocal apology of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. It was an important step that he hoped would contribute to a constructive solution.

The Danish Government is not in a position to apologize for decisions made by editors of an independent newspaper. This would simply contradict the spirit of the Danish constitution and the emphasis put herein on freedom of speech, but the Prime Minister has on public television stated that he respected other people’s faith and that he would personally never depict the Prophet Muhammad in a way that could insult other people.

Q: Have the 12 drawings been published in a children’s book?

A: The 12 drawings have not been published in a children’s book and this has never been the intention.

Q: Is Denmark rewriting the Koran?

A: The Danish Government respects Islam as one of the world’s major religions and no Danish authorities would ever initiate such a disrespectful project.

Q: Is it correct that the Danish Queen Margrethe has made statements critical of Islam?

A: No. This is not correct. The Queen has in her New Year’s Address 2005 stated: “The Danish society is open and democratic; it is based on mutual respect as humans and on the respect for each other’s opinions”.

Q: Is the newspaper that published the drawings state-owned?

A: The newspaper Jyllands-Posten is a private and independent newspaper that is neither owned by, nor affiliated to, the Government or any political party in Denmark.

Q: Will the Danish Government make a movie about the Prophet Muhammad?

A: The Danish Government has no such plans.

Q: Is it correct that the Koran will be burned in Denmark?

A: With reference to the rumours of burning the Koran circulated on SMS the Danish Police has warned that participation in demonstrations, where such acts take place, can be criminal and led to a prison sentence.

For more Q&A, please refer to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Wikipedia has more on the cartoons.

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