The fiery protests raging across the Islamic world and in Europe and US would leave no one in doubt that if immediate steps are not taken to check the Muslim anger, situation could very well get out of hand. As this newspaper had pointed out earlier, the tame explanation offered by the Jyllands-Posten has failed to mollify the anguished Muslims. And rightly so. Things have gone too far to be brought in control now. Only a genuine apology by the Danish leadership and action against those responsible for this outrage could bring this episode to a close. It’s rather strange therefore that Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen continues to ignore this call hiding behind the fig-leaf of freedom of speech. Even after his marathon meeting with the 76 ambassadors from the Muslim and Western nations on Friday, Rasmussen insists that the Danish government cannot apologise for the newspaper.
The Danish leadership has to realise that this issue has now become much bigger than a mere apology. It has acquired the contours of a veritable clash of civilisations. And at stake is the fabled tolerance and inclusive character of the European society that has for years allowed all faiths and people to co-exist in peace.
The Danish newspaper and all those that emulated it have endangered the peace and stability of this multicultural society. In the name of freedom of speech, they have deeply hurt the religious sensibilities and deeply-held beliefs of a community that not only loves and reveres its own Prophet but also holds in high esteem all prophets who came before him. A tolerant and pluralist society always respects the sentiments and feelings of its minorities. This is what is secularism is all about. This is why Denmark must not only apologise for the actions of Jyllands-Posten, but it must show it genuinely cares for its minorities by acting against those responsible for this outrage.