RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi newspapers on Sunday ran full-page apologies by the Danish newspaper that first ran cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have touched off violent anti-Western protests around the Muslim world.
But Jyllands-Posten’s website said the newspaper wasn’t involved in the ads. It said businesses placed the ad on their own initiative, using an apology issued by the newspaper late last month. It did not identify the companies or say if they were Danish.
Boycotts of Danish products throughout the Muslim world have taken a heavy toll on Denmark’s exporters, especially those selling Denmark’s famed dairy products.
The advertisements ran in three of Saudi Arabia’s main newspapers — Al-Jazeera, Al-Riyadh and Al-Youm — as well as the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat, which is distributed around the Arab world.
The Jyllands-Posten website said the text of the ad was identical to the apology in Arabic that it posted on the website Jan. 30. In that posting, signed by editor Carsten Juste, the newspaper apologized for offending Muslims, but stood by its decision to print the cartoons Sept. 30.
The newspaper published 12 cartoons of Muhammad, saying they were a test of whether the artists would censor themselves. One of the drawings depicted the Prophet Muhammad with a turban in the shape of a bomb.
A wave of protests — some violent — has swept across Islamic nations since late January, along with the boycotts of Danish products. At the same time, other European newspapers have reprinted the drawings as a show of support for freedom of expression.
Saudi King Abdullah tried to calm the protests Sunday, condemning what he called “the clash of civilizations” and calling on Muslims to spread the idea of peaceful coexistence.
“I call … for the next stage in relations between countries to be a stage of real dialogue where each side respects the other side, respects its sanctities, beliefs and identity,” Abdullah said, speaking to a cultural festival in the capital, Riyadh.
“Under these circumstances, when the Islamic nation is subjected to an attack that targets its religion, symbols and ideology, it is the duty of its sons and especially intellectuals to portray the true face of the nation, the face of tolerance, justice and moderation,” he said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
The Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference announced Sunday that it would hold a meeting within the next few weeks in the holy city of Mecca to devise a comprehensive plan for confronting “the strategy of hate, animosity and insult against Islam and Muslims.”