Reflections on the Danish cartoons a year later

Danish journalist Jakob Illeborg has penned a balanced and insightful reflection in The Guardian Unlimited on the lingering legacy in Denmark of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons that roiled the known universe a year ago. 

My only complaint is that he didn’t explicitly acknowledge how intensely political the affair was from the outset.  It never was simply about freedom of speech, and the affair’s architects’ professed  motivations have become increasingly hard to swallow as more information about them, past and present, has become available. 

 Comment is free: Those cartoons – one year on

That is really what it’s all about. Many Danes see themselves as a minority and accordingly think they have the right and obligation to kick out at the mighty Muslim faith. Muslims on the other hand, with some justification, see themselves as a global underdog. This is a bad match and therefore it is important that we reach international agreements on the role and limitations on religion and likewise the obligations to treat minorities in a certain way.

The paradox of the cartoons crisis is that it was completely avoidable. Had we had a functioning consensus and a better mutual understanding in Denmark it would never had happened. Here is an area where Britain could truly lead the way. The relatively successful integration and acceptance of different values you find in London should be used as a role model internationally, including the European Union which is becoming more and more diverse.

Emailed hat tip: Thabet.

Incidentally, yours truly has a chapter on the saga in an edited volume on the affair that is soon to be published in Germany.  The title of my article is "Jyllands-Posten and the Otherization of Europe’s Muslims".

The book is entitled Der Karikaturenstreit und die Pressefreiheit. Wert- und Normenkonflikte in der globalen MedienkulturAnk√ľndigung /  The Cartoon Debate and the Freedom of the Press. Conflicting Norms and Values in the Global Media Culture (edited by Bernhard Debatin).   The publisher is LIT Verlag and the book’s basic info (as of yet minus the work’s contributors) is here.

Would love to share the article, but I guess I need to wait till its safely in print.  Wouldn’t want anybody biting my rhymes. 


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