What's up, Europe? Gender, media and European integration. The story of a a young Dane exploring the continent.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Not-so-funny cartoons

As a Dane I almost feel obliged to comment on the infamous Mohammad drawings. Some weeks ago I was suggested to do an article on them but at that point I was fed up with the discussion. The drawings were printed in Jyllands-Posten in September last year, then an intense debate raised and when it finally cooled down the cartoons were introduced on the international scene. It seems to be a never-ending story.

Without doubt it was respectless of Jyllands-Posten to bring the cartoons. But regardless of the priorities of a newspaper Denmark is a democratic society and Danish media should have the right to print whatever they find relevant. At one point, I was concerned that the Danish government would actually apologise on behalf of Jyllands-Posten. This would have been a drastic step back for freedom-of-speech and in conflict with the basic values of the society I grew up in. Fortunately they did not.

To begin with, Jyllands-Posten published the cartoons to adress the self-censorship of Danish media. Today many journalists - as well as ordinary people - are afraid to debate and question Islam in public. They worry that they might risk being persecuted by religious extremists. Sadly, the riots and threats of the past weeks prove that these concerns have not been without reason.

Today, one banner in a Pakistani demonstration summed up the agressions of the East and the fears of the West:

"Europe, your 9/11 is on the way"