The editor of a Norwegian Christian newspaper has apologised to Muslims for publishing cartoons lampooning Prophet Muhammad that triggered a furore including the burning of Norway's embassy in Syria.
Vebjoern Selbekk, who initially defended his 10 January publication of the cartoons in Magazinet as an expression of press freedom, shook hands after his apology with a Muslim leader in Norway who said he considered the controversy over.
"I address myself personally to the Muslim community to say that I am sorry that your religious feelings have been hurt," Selbekk told a news conference on Friday.
"It was never our intent to hurt anyone.
"I, as editor, did not fully understand how hurtful the publication of the facsimile was. I would like to apologise for that today."
He also said he "deeply regretted" upsetting Muslims.
While I sympathize with the free speech argument, I'm also aware that we in the west would be deeply offended if holocaust deniers were to be given credibility by prominent newspapers or if cartoons were printed that depicted black people with huge lips eating watermelons. Those things could be defended as "free speech" as well but we wouldn't. We would be appalled.