Prime minister of Denmark vindicates handling of prophet cartoon crisis

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday said authorities have taken "all the necessary steps" to protect the cartoonists who made the prophet drawings that sparked violent protests in the Muslim world.

Fogh Rasmussen defended the government's handling of the crisis, including his decision not to meet with the ambassadors of 11 Muslim countries who protested the cartoons' publication in a Danish newspaper in September.

"In Denmark , the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press is not up for negotiation," he said during his weekly press briefing. "In Denmark , it is the courts who decide this kind of thing and not the government."

Fogh Rasmussen reiterated he regrets that Muslims worldwide have been offended by the 12 drawings published in Jyllands-Posten, but said his government cannot be held responsible for the actions of an independent newspaper.

He also said security for the cartoonists had been stepped up in light of threats against them and a bounty offered for on one of them by a Pakistani cleric.

"The Danish authorities have taken all the necessary steps to ensure security for the cartoonists and other individuals," he said, reports the AP.


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