EU: At some point the concept of free speech is going to get thru to people, but in the meantime the more they push for Denmark to bow down, more the public will get behind Denmark.
|COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark's Prime Minister said on Sunday his government could not act against satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed after Libya closed its embassy in Copenhagen amid growing Muslim anger over the dispute.
The newspaper Jyllands-Posten had not intended to insult Muslims when it published the drawings, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, referring to an editorial on the paper's Web site in Danish and Arabic.
But while Rasmussen tried to assuage Muslim anger, Libya on Sunday closed its embassy in Denmark in protest at the drawings.
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Denmark and Saudi religious leaders have urged a boycott of Danish products.
"Because the Danish media had continued to show disrespect to the Prophet Mohammed and because the Danish authorities failed to take any responsible action on that, Libya decided to close its embassy in Copenhagen," the Libyan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It also threatened to take unspecified "economic measures" against Denmark.
EU trade chief Peter Mandelson met a Saudi minister at a meeting in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos on Sunday and "urged the minister to convey the seriousness of this issue to his government," his spokesman said.
"Any boycott of Danish goods would be seen as a boycott of European goods," said spokesman Peter Power.|
I get the feeling the loss of Libya is not seen as a negative.
|Since Jyllands-Posten published the drawings in September, the Danish government has repeatedly defended the right of free speech.
"The government can in no way could influence the media. And the Danish government and the Danish nation as such can not be held responsible for what is published in independent media," Fogh Rasmussen said.
The newspaper has not apologised for publishing the drawings, which have caused widespread anger among Muslims around the world.
In a demonstration on the West Bank, members of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades threatened Danes in the area and told them to leave immediately, the Danish news agency Ritzau reported on Sunday.
The demonstrators burnt the Danish flag and called on the Palestinian authorities to cut diplomatic ties with Denmark, Ritzau said.
"We are sorry the matter has reached these proportions and repeat that we had no intention to offend anyone, and that we as the rest of the Danish society respect freedom of religion," the newspaper's editor-in-chief Carsten Juste said in the editorial.
Fogh Rasmussen was speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who said he was satisfied with the newspaper's explanation and the Danish government's view.
"Prime Minister Rasmussen explained Denmark's position on that (the drawings), which was very satisfactory to me as a Muslim," Karzai said.
The Danish government has broad public backing for it stance on the cartoons. An opinion poll showed that 79 percent of Danes think Fogh Rasmussen should not issue an apology and 62 percent say the newspaper should not apologise.|