( dpa ) - Germany's interior ministry denied reports Wednesday that Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called on European newspapers to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in solidarity with their Danish counterparts.
Schaeuble was quoted by the weekly Die Zeit as urging the newspapers to follow the Danish example and reprint the controversial cartoons, which triggered mass protests after their initial publication in 2006.
Expressing his "respect" for the Danish newspapers' decision to reprint the cartoons, the minister said they acted according to the principle, "we won't allow ourselves to be divided," Die Zeit said.
"Actually all European newspapers ought to print the cartoons together with the statement 'we find them terrible', but the utilization of press freedom should not be a reason to resort to violence," the minister was quoted as saying.
Interior Ministry spokesman Stefan Paris said the remarks, due to appear in the magazine on Thursday, were not a demand but an expression of the minister's support for freedom on the press.
Danish newspapers reprinted the cartoons in mid-February, following the disclosure of an alleged plot to kill the Danish artist who drew them.
The renewed publication drew sharp reactions, including a wave of arson attacks by Muslim immigrants in Denmark and calls for a boycott of Danish products in Jordan and other Arab and Islamic countries.
Schaeuble said he was convinced the role of religion would not diminish in the coming decades.
"In the world of the 21st century, religion will continue to play an important role, not just what concerns Islam. People will come to realize that they cannot do without religion."