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What is it about this time?

Earlier in this year, Denmark’s media came out as one person, reprinting the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. Underlying the decision to reprint these pictures, they say, is the defence of democratic rights. Let’s look at this more closely.

On 12 February 2008, three men were arrested (two Tunisians and a Danish national) on suspicion that they plotted to kill one of the cartoonists. Security services made it plain that they have no grounds to charge the men, but the Danish media went ahead and reprinted the images. Going out in defence of democratic rights when the people you target are not the ones who curtail such rights is an abuse of the right. And printing the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed as a useful handmaiden in defence of rights not under attack is not just wrong, but in this instance tantamount to stirring up racial and religious antaganism. We must remember that the newspaper which first commissioned the printing of the caricatures in 2005 (Jyllands Posten) did so with the flippant justification that it wanted to test the limits of self-censorship.

This selfsame newspaper supported German and Italian fascism in the 1920’s and the 1930’s. A rather rich history on the barbaric side of civilisation, I believe. In case of suggestions that this newspaper might have undergone some evolution in editorial growth, just read the sympathies this newspaper attracted from … surprise, surprise! None other than the personification of all things rightwing, the Suddeutsche-Zeitung. This evolution happened systematically and by the mid 1980’s Jyllands Posten became the ironic champion of free speech — the very newspaper which attacked anyone who dared have a different view.

What, one must ask, is the aim of reprinting these images this time around in that country run by a pantoffel regering? When it happened the first time it was essentially to prepare public opinion for an offensive against Iran and Syria. There is something fraudulent about the Danish media’s supposed stance in defence of democratic rights. One would have thought it would raise concerns about those arrested without charges and those expelled from that country without any legal proceedings whatsoever. There is nothing remotely close to a defence of democratic rights in this debacle. There’s only incitement of racial and religious intolerance and antaganism.

Just wondering … is this the time to invoke that old Flemish anti-establishment expression “Het regering een skreet” (Screw the government)?


  • Steven Lamini

    Steven Lamini is a specialist adviser in one of the key policy fields troubling modern-day Europe and works across a range of equality fields, advising on policy and strategic approaches to cohesion. His interests are wide and varied, and he writes on world politics, economic issues, current events, mediocrities and lame-duck presidents of countries. He believes that heads should be enlightened, but somehow regrets having such a stubborn principle, for some heads are rather best chopped off. He lives in York.