Denmark has embarked on a self-declared crusade to tell others how to live. The prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is quoted as saying: "Freedom of speech should be used to provoke and criticise political or religious authoritarians."
The Danish establishment weighed in on its leader's side. The rightwing newspaper Weekendavisen - at one time Denmark's foremost intellectual journal - justified Rasmussen's initial reaction of indifference to complaints about the cartoons and his refusal to meet with 10 concerned ambassadors from Muslim countries as "a desire for an activist foreign policy which has clashed with the traditional diplomatic wish to smooth things over". An MEP, Mogens Camre, declared: "It is 2005 and there is no reason whatsoever to respect foolish superstition in any form."
Following the lead of the moderates, the founder of the ultra-rightwing Danish People's party, Pia Kjærsgaard, felt emboldened to say that in order to qualify for citizenship, immigrants must not only master the Danish language but be examined on their respect for Danish society and its values. The words "Danish values" are repeated reverentially, as if all Danes possess a single mindset opposed to that held by Muslims. Kjærsgaard tells her countrymen the issue is not one of cartoons, but concerns rather a titanic struggle of values between totalitarian, dogmatic Islamic regimes and the freedom and liberty beloved of western democracies. Meanwhile the 200,000 Muslims living in Denmark have been denied a permit to build a mosque in Copenhagen. There is not a single Muslim cemetery in the country.
Feb 15, 2006
Those nasty right-wing Danes
Kiku Day, a Danish musician living in England, says Danish intolerance is to blame for the cartoon controversy.