Denmark isn't "Islamophobic", foreign minister says

The government insists that Denmark is an open and tolerant nation, but that its image was tarnished, especially in the Muslim world, by biased media coverage in the wake of the cartoon crisis earlier this year.

"We are definitely not the nation of xenophobic, Islamophobic, Quran-burning, morally corrupt heathens that part of the international and Arabic media has portrayed us as over the past few months," Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said in a statement from a conference on combatting stereotypes.

The 12 drawings, one of which shows Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb, first appeared in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September. They were later reprinted by a range of Western media, triggering angry protests -some of them deadly - across the Muslim world.

Islamic law forbids any depiction of the prophet, even positive ones, to prevent idolatry.

Moeller's comments came as the Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog, criticized Denmark's strict immigration laws and said the Scandinavian country doesn't do enough to fight racism.

Meanwhile, Denmark's former foreign minister, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, on Tuesday criticized Jyllands-Posten for printing the cartoons, calling it "a pubescent act." He said the global crisis that ensued showed Danes had not grasped the effects of globalization.