Once a leading critic of the Danish cartoons, which sparked fiery protests in Muslim countries, Lebanese-born Ahmad Akkari now says the Jyllands-Posten newspaper had the right to print them.

His unexpected change of heart has received praise from pundits and politicians in recent weeks, though some question his sincerity. It has also disappointed some in the country's Muslim minority who were deeply offended by the cartoons.

Akkari, now 35, was the spokesman for a group of imams who led the protests against the drawings in Denmark. They travelled to Lebanon, Egypt and Syria to elicit support, saying the Danish government wouldn't listen to their concerns.

Their journeys helped turn the dispute into an international crisis. Dozens were killed in weeks of protests that included violent attacks against Danish missions in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Lebanon. Tiny Denmark found itself on a collision course with the Muslim world -- something Akkari now regrets.