A Swedish envoy apologized to the Organization of Islamic Conference for the controversy created by the publication in Sweden of a sacrilegious cartoon involving Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the OIC said. The Swedish ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Jan Thesleff, met OIC Chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on Tuesday at the organization’s headquarters in Jeddah and offered his “deepest apologies for the controversy created by the publishing of the hurtful depiction”, the 57-nation bloc said in a statement..
The publication of the sketch in the Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda on August 18 sparked a fiery debate in the Swedish media on freedom of expression and prompted Muslims in Oerebro, where the newspaper is based, to hold two protests. Egypt, Iran and Pakistan lodged formal protests with the Swedish government and religious leaders in Afghanistan and Jordan also condemned the cartoon.
Islam forbids the prophet’s depiction in any form.
Sweden’s prime minister and envoys from 22 Muslim nations held talks in Stockholm on September 7 to try to defuse the row. Ihsanoglu conveyed to Thesleff his “concerns that this kind of irresponsible and provocative incitement in the name of defending freedom of expression…was leading the international community towards more confrontation and division”, the OIC said.
A series of 12 cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) published in Denmark’s biggest daily more than a year ago led to large rallies and demonstrations in the Muslim world.