Thursday, 21 January 2010

Freedom of Speech in Denmark

On September 30th 2005 a Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, posted 12 Muhammad cartoons as to announce that this publication was an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship. This has then later led to further examples of the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than fifty other countries, further extending the controversy. One other big Danish publication Politiken reprinted their version of the cartoons. These publications resulted in protest from Muslims living in Denmark and other Islamic countries (on the 22nd of February 139 were recorded dead because of the situation).

All this was happening because in Denmark media has freedom of speech. For four months radical Muslim organisations have unsuccessfully demanded government control. However, despite their pressure and the support they were receiving from international organisations such as the UN and the EU, the Danish government refused to call the newspaper to account. In this situation the government stands back pretending that they are not involved. However the whole situation was for Denmark to get publicity, as it happened after the US went to war with Iraq. Denmark is a small country that sits in the back and keeps to them selves. After the publications, all of the death threats and even murder attempts on the journalist started to happen, the Danish government as an ally with America assumed that the Americans would come and protect the country, which never happened. After they realised that, the Danish government and the media was forced to stick to their belief in freedom of speech and handle the situation on their own. The Danish government refused to interfere and limit the freedom of speech, as it will make them look weak and they want to be heard about their strong position.

But was it the right way to do so? The Danish government press knew what they were doing and what they will get out of publishing these cartoons. The government used the media to express their views through press, as they are the ones with freedom of expression.

The twelve drawings illustrated:

- The face of a man whose beard and turban were drawn within a crescent moon, and with a star (symbols normally used for Islam);

- The face of a grim-looking bearded man with a turban shaped like an ignited bomb;

- Five stylised female figures wearing headscarves, with facial features depicted as a star and a crescent moon. The caption reads: "Prophet! You crazy bloke! Keeping women under the yoke!";

- Two bearded men wearing turbans and armed with a sword, a bomb and a gun, running towards a third bearded wearing a turban. He is reading a sheet of paper and gesturing them to hold off, with the words: "Relax folks! It’s just a sketch made by an unbeliever from southern Denmark";

- A bearded man wearing a turban and carrying a sword, standing with a black bar covering his eyes. Two women are flanking him, wearing black gowns, with only their eyes visible;

- A bearded man wearing a turban, standing on clouds with arms outstretched, exclaiming: "Stop, stop, we ran out of virgins!". Men in tatters with plumes of smoke over their heads queue up in front of him.

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