“We appreciate the Norwegian stance which is different from Denmark,” said Qaradawi.

By Farahat Al-Abbar, IOL Correspondent

DOHA, February 15, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) – A Norwegian delegation, including deputy bishop Oliva Dag Howika, on Tuesday, February 15, offered renowned Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi an apology from the Norwegian magazine that has reprinted the Danish cartoons lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).

“We accepted the apology in principle,” Qaradawi said after the meeting, also attended by Mohamed Hamdan, the chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council in Norway and Norway’s Deputy Archbishop Oliva Howika.

“We do appreciate the Norwegian stance which is different from that taken by Denmark,” said Qaradawi, the chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS).

“The Norwegian prime minister has condemned the cartoons at the very outset,” noted the prominent scholar.

Last September, Denmark’s mass circulation daily Jyllands-Posten ran 12 cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

One of the photos showed the prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban and another showed him as a knife-wielding nomad flanked by shrouded women.

Many European newspapers, including the Norwegian Magazinet, reprinted the drawings, triggering an outcry across the Muslim world and calls to boycott Danish products and Norwegian products.

Vebjoern Selbekk, the editor of the Norwegian magazine, apologized to Muslims on February 10, for publishing the cartoons.

After initially defending his January 10 publication of the cartoons as an expression of press freedom, he appeared before TV cameras shaking hands with Muslim leaders after his apology.

Ban Blasphemy

Hamdan (R) and Howika during the meeting with Qaradawi.

Qaradawi called anew on the United Nations to adopt a resolution banning blasphemy to head off similar incidents in the future.

He also urged the European Union to criminalize blasphemy against any religion, including pagan religions.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is pressing for a ban on religious intolerance to be part of the bedrock of a planned new United Nations human rights body.

“Muslims want all people to live in peace, cooperation and love. We don’t call for strife. All people are created by God, so there was no need for this strife,” Qaradawi told reporters.

“We were deeply hurt by the cartoons. The Danish newspaper could have defused the crisis by offering an immediate apology to the Muslims. Had it apologized, the issue would have been resolved,” he said.

Qaradawi pointed out that there is a difference between freedom of expression and freedom of insulting.

“Freedom of expression is all about expressing an opinion. In the cartoons case, there is no opinion or counter-opinion,” he said.

The Norwegian delegation assured the renowned scholar that Article 135-A of the Norwegian Penal Code orders a maximum penalty of three years in jail for publishing articles mocking religions or ethnic groups.