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Erik Barkman Petersen on the Denmark Muhammed Cartoons
posted January 14, 2006

First off, I want to compliment you on a great site. I check it out whenever I can and find myself consistently inspired and well informed. Thanks!

Second, I just wanted to comment on your story on Zaman Onlines coverage of Jyllands-Posten (literally "The Jutland Mail" - I actually live right next to their HQ here in Arhus, Denmark) and their Muhammed cartoons being "believed by some to be a contributing factor to last Fall's riots in Europe." Living in Denmark, where this story has of course received a huge amount of coverage - and where Jyllands-Postens Muhammed cartoons have met a lot of internal criticism, mind you - I have yet to hear or read the slightest hint of a relation between the cartoons and the riots, by which I take you to mean those in and around Paris (surely the only muslim protests in the fall worthy of the name "riots").

If I'm not mistaken, the Paris riots actually predate the Muhammed cartoons. I can't help but suspect that this claim is part of a series of false accusations put forward by particularly Egyptian mass media recently about Denmark and the Muhammed Cartoons - another example being their claim that the Danish government is planning to publish a censored edition of the Koran (!)

Obviously, the Muhammed cartoons have enraged many muslims and just for the record: I am no big fan of them or Jyllands-Posten. The last thing we need to do here in Denmark is alienating our largely unassimilated Muslim population. On the other hand, I think the cartoons have to be put into perspective: Denmark is a country with a long and proud tradition of savage satire and consensual politics, and if Jyllands-Posten had published similar caricatures of Jesus, it would hardly have raised an eyebrow. So the newspaper editors could hardly have been prepared for the extensive fallout their (fairly innocuous, I'd say) Muhammed cartoons would create.

Right, just thought you might be interested in a Danish perspective on the piece - if not, no harm done eh?

All the best - keep up the great work!