The announcement belied reports in Danish media suggesting that a delegation of imams to an Islamic conference in Bahrain would call for an end to the boycott.

   

Raed Hlayhel, who is leading a delegation of Danish imams to the International Conference for Supporting the Prophet, said that the delegation had not asked for the boycott to be lifted, but rather that it should not be expanded.

 

"Danish people must send a reassuring message to Muslims that they do not agree with what was printed in the newspaper and that they respect Muslims,"  Hlayhel said. "The ball is in their court... They have to help us to end this boycott."

 

The cartoons first printed by a Danish paper and later reprinted in other countries angered Muslims for their negative depictions of the prophet. Some of the subsequent demonstrations in a number of Muslim countries turned violent and three Danish embassies were attacked.

 

The cartoons also provoked a boycott of Danish goods in some countries, and Danish dairy exporting companies faced heavy financial losses.

   

Regret, not apology

 

Denmark's prime minister has expressed regret over the offence caused, but has refused to apologise on behalf of the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, which first published the cartoons. The paper's editor has apologised for offending Muslims, but has defended the paper's right to publish the cartoons.

   

About 200,000 Muslims live in Denmark, less than 4% of the population.

   

Scholars at the conference, which ends on Thursday, are expected to call for a study on the effects of the boycott to decide what measures they may take next.

   

A communique will also ask for the creation of an international organisation for supporting the prophet, a fund to support regular conferences, constant dialogue with the West, and a legal office to follow up cases of blasphemy.