Last September, the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published 12 drawings of the Prophet Mohammed, which sparked anger among Muslims in Denmark and abroad. The degrading caricatures were later reprinted in a Norwegian magazine (in defense of free speech), causing a boycott of Danish and Norwegian products in the Arab world. The Danish-Swedish dairy producer Arla even paid for an ad in Saudi Arabian newspapers, in order to “stop the boycott from escalating”. As of yesterday, Arla products were off the shelves in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Lebanon, Kuwait and many other nations.
Late last night Jyllands-Posten issued an apology, not for publishing the drawings, but for the fact that the drawings offended Muslims! It’s a hazardous strategy, not to apologize for you own actions, but apologize for the reactions of the offended part. I guess the reason is that an apology for the actual publication would be seen as caving in to external pressure and in the long run a threat to the freedom of speech.
“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.”
The same strategy was used in Norway:
In Norway, a foreign ministry spokesman denied media reports that the government had asked its diplomats to apologize to Muslim countries.
“We have not asked our diplomats to apologize for the publication of these cartoons, but to apologize for the agitation they have created,” she said, according to Norway’s NTB news agency.
It will be interesting to see if this apology will be enough to make this issue go away.
(By the way, maybe a pop-up for a net survey shouldn’t be what greets readers that click on the link to the apology.)