Denmark’s foreign minister denied Thursday that she had apologized on a Middle East trip for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, initially published by a Danish newspaper in 2005, that angered many Muslims.
Middle East media, including the English-language Egyptian Gazette and Arabic television network Al-Arabiya, said Lene Espersen had apologized for the cartoons during her visit to Cairo Wednesday.
But Espersen said on Danish TV 2 News Thursday she had not issued any apology for the drawings.
“I can clearly deny that I have given an apology,” Espersen said. “But I can confirm that I have said that freedom of expression is not so extensive that it would not have any limits.”
…The Egyptian Gazette cited Egypt’s Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb as saying that Espersen “renewed her country’s apology for the publication of these cartoons and pointed out Denmark’s efforts to issue a law criminalizing contempt of religions.”
Espersen said that she told the Sheikh that the Danish government found it regrettable that many people were offended by the drawings and that the government condemns demonizing of groups of people based on their religion or ethnic background.
But Espersen, who faces a general election before the end of November next year, also said that citizens had a right to express themselves within the limits of the law without interference from the government, TV 2 News said on its website.