A Danish academic has provided a series of really informative and insightful posts on the historical backdrop to the cartoon controversy (e.g., Random Platitudes – The "Cartoon Row" dissected — part 1) . He gets into detail about recent Danish history and shows the real (and underreported) politico-cultural context to this truly bizarre turn of events. And, unlike most of the Danish blogs providing intelligent analysis on the matter, he writes in English.
Grab a cup of coffee and curl up with his blog. There’s a wealth of info.
In today’s Denmark, xenophobia is an important political factor. This is a significant point, since it is a fact that deviates quite strongly from the way Danes tend to view themselves. Ask any Dane, and they will tell you that it is typically Danish to be helpful and open towards foreigners. This is the way Danes see themselves, and it is fundamental to their worldview.
Yet a significant portion of the same people who claim to be open and tolerant will, given the right circumstances, openly utter strongly xenophobic remarks directed at a particular segment of the population of Denmark — to wit, the large group of first- or second-generation immigrants living in Denmark.
As of January 1 2000, 7.1% of Denmark’s population were first- or second-generation immigrants. Of these, the largest groups were Turks, Germans, Bosnians and Lebanese, with Pakistanis, Yugoslavs, Iraqis, Somalians, Norwegians, Swedes, Iranians, Poles, Britons, and Vietnamese as other major groups. The Turks made up the most significant group, with twice as many Turks as Germans.