Rumor had it that Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen would apologize to the Muslim world for the publication of cartoons of Mohammed in Danish newspapers. Would he actually apologize for free speech after having himself defended the newspapers’ right to free speech? In the end, not explicitly:
“I respect Islam as one of the world’s major religions as well as its religious symbols,” Rasmussen said during a panel discussion at an Istanbul conference aimed at building bridges between the Muslim world and the West…
…”I was deeply distressed that the cartoons were seen by many Muslims as an attempt by Denmark to mark and insult or behave disrespectively toward Islam or the Prophet Mohammad. Nothing could be further from my mind,” Rasmussen said…
…”During my tenure as the secretary general of NATO I will pay close attention to the religious and cultural sensibilities of the different communities that populate our increasingly pluralistic and globalized world,” Rasmussen said.
The boss isn’t pleased:
There is a reason we call Muslim mau-mau-ers the Religion of Perpetual Outrage. They will never give up until you give in. Three years after the Mohammed Cartoon conflagration, the grievance-mongers are still trying to extract contrition out of the Danes and others who stood up for the West and for free speech.
Unfortunately, the ROPO bullies squeezed conciliatory remarks from Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He didn’t say the exact words “I’m sorry,” but he might as well have tattooed it on his forehead … How about telling the thugs to start paying attention to the sensibilities of civilized people who don’t wage riots, murder people, and issue death threats over cartoons?
Michael van der Galien, who has covered this story well over the weekend, is equally displeased:
My take: this is as close as one can come to apologizing save for downright asking for forgiveness. It’s what you could call a “political apology.”
Rasmussen should have stuck to his guns. He has nothing to apologize nor to ’sympathize’ for. The cartoons were printed by a newspaper, not by his government. It is sad that many felt insulted by them, but it is even sadder that mobs in Indonesia and Arab countries took the streets, boycotted Danish products, and attacked its embassies.
It was not an open, outright apology, but it is hard if not impossible to interpret it differently than a political one.
To me, it looks like just enough to allow everyone to save face. The Turks would have faced a lot of pressure to reject NATO from its own Muslim allies had they allowed a Dane to take command without addressing the issue in some manner. Rasmussen never apologized, not even the standard Beltway non-apology apology — the “I’m sorry you were offended” construct. Instead, he declared himself “deeply distressed” that Muslims misinterpreted the cartoons, which hardly counts as an apology for newspapers printing them. He only went so far as to say that Danes don’t hate Muslims and that he will consider religious sensibilities in his job. That’s as practically significant as a company in the US putting “An Equal Opportunity Employer” at the bottom of their job applications.
I’m inclined to give Rasmussen a pass on this. It looks like he found the bare minimum that would satisfy the Turks and keep the government from having to deal with its radical Islamist faction and gave it to them.
Update: Michael’s updated his post to rebut mine; be sure to read it again. He e-mailed me with an even better question:
Something nobody mentioned yet: if he said this years ago he would have saved his countrys businesses billions. Instead, he acted tough. Why? Domestic politics? Reelection?
Not a bad point there.