New Danish book reprints Prophet cartoons

FM meets Muslim diplomats ahead of publication

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A book on the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed will be released despite recent threats against Denmark linked to the case, the publisher said Wednesday prompting the Danish foreign minister to call in a meeting with representatives of Muslim countries.

"The book will come out as planned," Karsten Blauert of Jyllands-Posten Editions told AFP.

"The Tyranny of Silence" is due out on Thursday, five years to the day the cartoons first appeared in Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Although it will not reprint the drawings separately, its inside pages will feature "a picture of the front page of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper that had the Mohammed cartoons on it," Blauert said.

Asked about the possibility of a strong reaction to its publication, he said: "It's clear that a lot of things are happening, but everything is taking place as planned, and nothing will change that."

The book is by Flemming Rose, who was the Jyllands-Posten's cultural editor when on Sept. 30, 2005, the newspaper ran its front-page spread featuring 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The drawings sparked outrage across the Muslim world and led to violent protests against Denmark and Danish interests in 2006. Rose himself has since received numerous death threats.

In an August interview Rose insisted he was not trying to be provocative with the new book, stressing that he simply wanted to "tell the story of the 12 drawings and put them into a context of (other) pictures considered offensive.

It was important to write the book because, he said: "Words should be answered with words.

"That's all we have in a democracy, and if we give that up we will be locked in a tyranny of silence."

A terrorist target

Norwegian police said Tuesday that an Iraqi Kurd being held in Norway on suspicion of planning bombings had admitted that his target was the Jyllands-Posten.

The Danish intelligence service PET, confirming the Norwegian claim, said Denmark had become a "priority terrorist target for Islamic extremists."

On Wednesday Denmark's foreign minister met ambassadors of 17 Muslim countries ahead of the publication of the book.

Lene Espersen's meeting with the ambassadors took place in a bid to defuse tensions with Muslim countries.

"It can no longer come as a surprise that there are people in Denmark and around the world who will be hurt when they hear that the drawings will be published again," Espersen said in a statement.

"In light of our experiences from the past five years, I have taken a number of steps to avoid new confrontations, which do nobody any good," she added.

The meeting was aimed at preventing new protests against Denmark and Danish interests over the publication Thursday.

The minister met ambassadors from 17 Muslim countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Iran, Klavs Holm, the Danish ambassador for public diplomacy, told AFP.

"It was a good meeting, a good atmosphere," he said.

Espersen had stressed that "freedom of speech in Denmark is the cornerstone of our democracy and that people therefore have the right to print books as long as it is within the law," he said.

At the same time, she emphasized in the statement that "Denmark wants to maintain strong and good and friendly relations with the Muslim world. A constructive dialogue is the way forward."

"The Danish government respects all creeds and religious communities, including Islam ... and all peoples' religious sensibilities," she added.

In light of our experiences from the past five years, I have taken a number of steps to avoid new confrontations, which do nobody any good

Danish FM Lene Espersen