Norwegian newspaper editor asks pardon for prophet cartoons

The editor of a small Christian newspaper in Norway apologized Friday for offending Muslims by reprinting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in January.

At a news conference, Magazinet editor Vebjoern Selbekk said he regretted publishing the cartoons on Jan. 10 because he had not foreseen the pain and anger they would cause among Muslims.

"I reach out personally to the Muslim community to say that I am sorry that their religious feelings were violated by what we did," Selvik said. "It is also only right for me to admit that I, as the editor, did not understand how offensive it was to publish the copies."

The Evangelical Christian newspaper was among the first newspapers to reprint the drawings that were first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September, saying it was defending free speech.

The drawings, now widely reprinted in Europe and elsewhere, have caused often violent protests in the Muslim world, including the burning of the Norwegian and Danish embassies in Syria.

Selvik made his apology at a hastily called news conference, where he appeared with the leader of the Islamic Council in Norway, Mohammed Hamdan, and Norwegian Labor Minister Bjarne Haakon Hanssen.

The newspaper editor praised the Norwegian Islamic community for insisting on dialogue rather than violence in its response to the cartoons.

"The Muslim community has handled this in a worthy and reserved manner. They deserve honor and respect for that," Selvik said.

Hamdan stressed that Islam values forgiveness and that Selvik, who has received scores of death threats, was now under his protection, reports the AP.

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