RIYADH, Jan 25: Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh has called upon Denmark to punish the newspaper that ran cartoons hurting Muslims’ sentiments. “I call upon officials of the Danish government to call to account the paper that published these cartoons and force it to apologise for its crime,” the Grand Mufti said in a statement published on Wednesday.

“It should impose a penalty on those who took part in this provocative act. That’s the least the Muslims demand,” it said.

Earlier this week the Saudi government also denounced European newspapers that published blasphemous cartoons and said such spiteful actions would spread hatred and animosity among people of different faiths.

“The Council of Ministers expressed the kingdom’s condemnation of what is published by certain European newspapers defiling the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him),” the Saudi Press Agency said after the Monday meeting of the cabinet.

Meanwhile, mobile phone text messages circulating in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks have urged Saudis to boycott Danish products.

The Danish Ambassador in Riyadh issued a statement last week saying Denmark respected Islam and that the paper publishing the cartoons was independent of the government.

Arab foreign ministers in December condemned the Danish government for not acting against the newspaper.