Denmark: Muslim embassies complain over Mohammed caricaturesMuslim embassies complain over Mohammed caricatures
Daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten's decision to print twelve cartoons featuring Muslim prophet Mohammed has caused a stir among Muslim countries, daily newspaper Politiken reported on Thursday. A number of Muslim countries with embassies in Denmark have sent a protest to Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the caricatures. 'We are hoping for understanding about Muslims' feelings about Mohammed. And we're hoping for an apology from Jyllands-Posten,' said Mascud Effendy Hutasuhut, minister counsellor at the Indonesian Embassy. In addition to Indonesia, a number of Arab states, Pakistan, Iran, and Bosnia-Herzegovina have complained about the cartoons, which they see as a hate campaign against Muslims in Denmark.
The newspaper urged cartoonists to send in drawings of the prophet after an author complained that nobody dared to illustrate his book on Mohammed. Twelve illustrators heeded the newspaper's call and sent in cartoons of the prophet, which were published in the newspaper last month. Jyllands-Posten has called the cartoons a test of whether fear of Islamic retribution has begun to limit the freedom of expression in Denmark. The caricatures have caused uproar amongst the nation's Muslims, and security guards were posted around the newspaper's Copenhagen office after a mentally unstable 17-year-old boy sent death threats to journalists and the illustrators.
Representatives of the Muslim countries have requested a meeting with the prime minister, who is also the minister of press issues, to discuss the cartoons. The Prime Minister's Office's press chief, Michael Ulveman, said the ministry was preparing a reply, but would not give any further comments. Peter Viggo Jakobsen, department chief at the Danish Institute for International Studies, said the Muslim ambassadors should not get their hopes up. 'If they have the faintest idea about how a Danish and democratic society works, they should know that the Danish government doesn't have any say about Jyllands-Posten's rights of expression,' Jakobsen said.
Government distances itself from hate
The Danish government takes sharp issue with any points of view that put down a certain ethnic group or incites hate. The Prime Minster answering a parliamentary question from the Red Green Alliance categorically denied that the government supported any attempts to incite hate towards especially Muslims. Per Clausen from the Red Green Alliance, asked the Prime Minster if one could plausibly believe that the government, which is dependent upon the backing of the Danish People's Party (DF) for their parliamentary majority, condones expressions of hate towards Muslims. He said that leading members of DF, amongst others Louise Frevert who is on extended leave from Parliament, have put their names to expressions of hate and are carrying out a witch-hunt against Muslims, which bring the government's credibility into question.
I notice that this campaign against free speech by Muslim ambassadors in Denmark has a precedent in Norway:
Ambassadors blast Hagen; he fires back
A Norwegian politician's recent assault on Islamic fundamentalists continues to spur reaction. Now a group of ambassadors have taken the unusual step of blasting Progress Party leader Carl I Hagen in a letter to newspaper Aftenposten, but Hagen isn't wavering. Ambassadors to Norway from Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Morocco, as well as the charge d'affaires from Tunisia, claim in their letter that Hagen has offended 1.3 billion Muslims around the world. They also contend that Hagen has violated the principles of tolerance, understanding and cultual freedom on which the Norwegian society is built. They wrote that they find it difficult to find any justification for the harsh language used by Hagen, when he claimed at a Christian summer gathering in Bergen earlier this month that Mohammed was likely to exploit children in his efforts to "Islamify" the world. Hagen also claimed that Muslims already had come far in Africa and were making inroads into Europe, something that Christians must oppose. At one point in his remarks, Hagen compared Islamic fundamentalists to Hitler.