In writing this letter they broke several basic rules of diplomacy.
- They sent the letter to the Prime Minister instead of sending it to the foreign minister.
- Before giving the Prime Minister a chance to answer, they leaked the letter to the press. Incredibly as it may sound, Politiken inadvertently revealed that that they had a draft of the letter.
- They made demands, which they knew the Prime Minister couldn't possibly meet
The letter contained the request:
We deplore these statements and publications and urge your Excellency’s government to take all those responsible to task under law of the land in the interest of inter-faith harmony, better integration and Denmark overall relations with the Muslim world. We rest assured that you will take all necessary steps.
Naturally, in a free country, the Prime Minister is unable to take the free press "to task under law", which Fogh politely explained in his written reply.
Much of the criticism against Fogh, from abroad and from his political opposition in Denmark has been that he didn't give in to the demands in the letter. However, Mona Omar has later admitted, that the demands were never meant to be accepted. She said to the Oman daily, al-Watan:
As a matter of fact I feared that the case would end with an apology from the Prime Minister - leaving more than one billion Muslims overwhelmed with sorrow and anger.
The best thing the Danish PM did, was not to apologize for the scandalous attitude. If he had apologized, this case would have been closed and finished temporarily - in order to return again, some times in the form of a caricature drawing, other times in the form of articles or in the form of new attacks.
In fact the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, has played a great role in connection with this, since the minister has continuously instructed me on how I should act in the case
[. . .]
The Danish PM stated on the occasion of the New Year, that he rejects any act, which aims to insult any religion.
Some thought that the case would simply end, since they meant that this statement could be regarded as an indirect apology. But Saudi-Arabia continued with their efficient reaction and called their ambassadors home
These statements, which can be read (in Danish) here and here are not what you would expect to hear from a diplomat. She feared that Fogh Rasmussen would apologize, because without a proper escalation of the crisis, Denmark might still use its free speech another day to make a drawing, an article and something else, which might offend Mona Omar's delicate taste. When Fogh did apologize, Ms. Omar was glad that the Saudi's "continued with their efficient reaction" and that Saudi-Arabia found themselves an easy victim.
|Mona Omar: Together we can prophet from this case.|
(Notice the fake pig snout in Akkari's hand
Cartoon by Rasmus Sand Høyer
In fact, the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs issued visa, let the Danish imams travel as diplomats and introduced them to the highest Islamic authorities.
The first Danish delegation left 3rd December, when Kasem Said Ahmad, press spokesman for the society, reassured the cartoonists, that he would put in a word for them in the Middle East. The delegation, led by imam Abu Bashar, went to Egypt and met the leader of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, a meeting which would have been unthinkable without the help of the Egyptian embassy. Abu Bashar showed his own fake Mohammed cartoons with Mohammed as a pig. The secretary Alaa Roushdy has later told that the two Danish Muslims told him about a Islam-critical movie, which Denmark was going to produce. Another Imam-lie.
The delegation also met the Egyptian grand Mufti Muhammad Said Tantawy - and even more important: The Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, promised to bring up the case on the conference in Mecca, where the 57 countries of the OIC were going to meet in December. Later when Mr. Gheit went to Mecca, he brought along a copy of the infamous Akkari-Laban dossier.
For a good measure, the Egyptian government also reported Denmark to EU, UN, the Arab League and the Islamic Conference (OIC), knowing fully well that a reply would not come before after the Egyptian election.
But while they were putting Denmark in general, and Fogh Rasmussen in particular, under maximum pressure from several sides, they were passive towards the Danish ministers, who during 15 contacts between the Danish and the Egyptian ministries of foreign affairs were led to believe that any trouble would be fixed by Fogh Rasmussen's New Year's speech. Thus Mona Omar's fears did not come true - and Fogh Rasmussen did not give in.
Why did the Egyptian government act so strangely? One explanation is the upcoming Egyptian election, where the government was afraid of losing to the Muslim Brotherhood - and needed the issue to escalate in order to appear as the True Defenders of the Faith. Abu Laban said something similar to the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Abu-Laban began working closely with Cairo's embassy in Copenhagen, holding several meetings with Egypt's ambassador to Denmark, Mona Omar Attia. "Egypt's embassy played a fundamental role," he says. Egypt and other Arab regimes saw the furor as a good opportunity "to counteract pressure from the West" and "to show people they are good Muslims," he says.
So according to Laban, it was "a good opportunity [...] to show people they are good Muslims"
After the election, the Egyptian government cancelled their promised reforms - e.g. local elections which should have taken place at the beginning of this year - and arrested a number of leading members of The Muslim Brotherhood.