One of the central characters in the Mohammed Cartoon Crisis in 2006 says he regrets his role in the controversory that propelled the country to the top of the target lists of terrorists.
Ahmed Akkari, the former spokesperson for the Muslim faith group Det Islamiske Trossamfund, now says that he regrets his trip to the Middle East which he said had "unintended consequences" and helped catalyse the crisis.
In early 2006, Akkari travelled to the Middle East with the former leader of Det Islamiske Trossamfund, Abu Abdul Laban, to speak about the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that Jyllands-Posten newspaper printed in September 2005.
The reaction to the images in the Middle East resulted in attacks on Danish embassies and a mass boycott of Danish products.
“I regret paving the way for these imams, associations and groups to promote themselves at the expense of a serious threat to the civil rights of Muslims,” Akkari told Jyllands-Posten. “The trip had some intended as well as some unintended consequences, the most unfortunate of which was that the Muslims’ attempt to convey their point ended up falling on deaf ears.”
Akkari’s remarks come after DR’s P1 radio aired an interview with Imran Shah, the current spokesperson for Det Islamiske Trossamfund, in which Shah said he also regretted the Middle East trip.
“If we could have foreseen the human and material ramifications of our trip, we never would have gone,” Shah told DR. “We have been a factor in it and we are sorry for the damages caused, particularly because we are very concerned about the safety of Danish society.”
Akkari still believes that the 12-illustration series that Jyllands-Posten printed helped foster stereotypes and said the blame for the ordeal ultimately rests in the hands of the newspaper. Had they printed illustrations of Osama Bin Laden or someone other than the prophet, Akkari said, the whole dilemma would probably have been avoided.
Akkari, who is educated as a teacher, is no longer affiliated with Det Islamiske Trossamfund, and has most recently been teaching at an adult education centre in Viborg.