Norway asks embassies to offer regrets

Published January 27, 2006

OSLO, Jan 26: Norway has advised its Middle East embassies to voice regret that an Oslo-based newspaper ran cartoons hurting sentiments of Muslims.

A small Christian newspaper Magazinet ran on Jan 10 a reprint of 12 blasphemous cartoons from Denmark’s largest newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Some Middle Eastern countries have already criticized Denmark over the cartoons.

“We have sent out a letter to our embassies with any advice they might need,” Anne Lene Dale Sandsten, spokeswoman for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday.

She declined to give details of the letter but a draft published in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten expressed regret about the publication of the cartoons.

“The caricatures in the Christian publication Magazinet are not constructive to build the needed bridges between people of differing religious beliefs and ethnic backgrounds,” it said.

“Rather, they create mistrust and unnecessary conflict.”

BAN: Danish food giant Arla Foods said on Thursday it was being targeted by a boycott in Saudi Arabia because of the publication in Denmark of the cartoons.

Arla Foods is Europe’s second-largest dairy company and the leading Danish exporter to Saudi Arabia, where it sells an estimated two billion kroner (268 million euros, 328 million dollars) worth of products every year.

“More and more supermarkets are taking our products off their shelves and don’t want fresh supplies because consumers no longer want to buy our brand,” Arla Foods spokesman Louis Honore told AFP. “The situation is very serious.”

Arla Foods sales staff had been summoned by major Saudi customers who were threatening to stop buying Arla butter and cheeses unless the Danish government officially apologized for the cartoons, he said.—Agencies

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