(photo credit: AP)
Denmark's top prosecutor said Wednesday he will not press charges against the newspaper that first published the Prophet Muhammad cartoons that angered Muslims worldwide.
The Foreign Ministry warned the decision could cause "negative reactions" against Danes and warned citizens to be cautious when traveling in Muslim countries.
Director of Public Prosecutions Henning Fode upheld the decision of a regional prosecutor who ruled the drawings published in Jyllands-Posten September 30 did not violate Danish law. Fode's decision cannot be appealed.
His ruling said the 12 cartoons, one of which shows the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb, did not violate bans on racist and blasphemous speech.
"My decision is that there is no violation of the said rules of the Danish Criminal Code," Fode said in a statement.
A regional prosecutor said January7 that the drawings were protected by Denmark's freedom of speech and did not violate bans on racism and blasphemy.
Fode's office said it had received several appeals by organizations and individuals unhappy with the regional prosecutor's decision.
The cartoons, which were reprinted in European papers in January and February _ sparked a wave of protests around the Arab and Islamic world. Some turned violent, with protesters killed in Libya and Afghanistan and several European embassies attacked.
A boycott on Danish goods started in Saudi Arabia on Jan. 26 and spread to dozens of Muslim countries.
The cartoons were seen as an insult to Muhammad, depicting him as violent and primitive. Sunni Muslim tradition bans any image of the prophet, since depicting him risks insulting him or encouraging idolatry.
In his ruling, Fode noted that there was "no free and unrestricted right to express opinions about religious subjects" in Denmark. He said Jyllands-Posten had thus been wrong in writing that religious groups had to be ready to put up with "scorn, mockery and ridicule."
The paper has apologized for offending Muslims but stands by its decision to publish the cartoons, citing right to freedom of speech.
The prosecutor's ruling prompted the Foreign Ministry to upgrade its travel warnings for Muslim countries from Algeria to Malaysia.
"The decision may cause negative reactions to Danes and Danish interests abroad," the ministry said. "With that background, Danes should be particularly cautious when traveling."