Op-ed on Muslim boycott of Denmark

Op-ed on Muslim boycott of Denmark January 31, 2006

Thought I’d share a partial translation of a hardhitting and eye-opening op-ed by Danish social commentator, Rune Engelbreth Larsen about the international uproar and political and economic crisis facing Denmark over the infamous political cartoons denigrating the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Jyllands-Posten .

Like me, he sees this PR disaster as self-inflicted by the Danish government and sees a lot of doublestandards at work here. 

I’ve only translated/summarized the first few paragraphs.  Will try to summarize the remainder eventually.

What a terrible situation for little Denmark.  Every other headline in its newspapers these days is about the latest development in this geo-political nightmare. 

The worst part is how unnecessary all of this is.

[Have to note that there is a more than passing physical ressemblance between the two of us, as the photo on his page shows.]



The JP cartoons, the boycott and the apology

In a more humanistic climate than that which prevails in
Denmark today, JP would never have dreamed of such an unnecessary and tasteless
provocation against Muslims as its demonizing cartoons of Muhammad, but then in
a more humanistic climate we would
naturally not have already been witness to Muslims being marginalized [in
Denmark] over 15 years of progressively humiliating rhetoric and propaganda

In more humanistic climate than that of today, when JP turns
freedom of expression on its head, striking a blow for the “right” to humiliate a hard pressed [? not sure how to translate “trængt”] minority group in Denmark, one
would expect the Danish government to have understood the need to distance
itself from this form of demonization, but without limiting freedom of

This is especially true when one considers how often the
government’s ministers have demandedthat Muslims [in Denmark] collectively  repudiate more radical Muslims when they do something
objectionable. But this obviously doesn’t
cut both ways. Instead, the government
has taken the most bizarre of all
position of all—the government’s position is that it has no position. […]

[In a more humanistic climate, the government would have at least
met with Muslim ambassadors, regardless of the latter’s expectations of  such a meeting. There it could have explained that it did naturally
not condone such attacks against the dignity of a religious minority, even if
it could not interfere.]

[In a more humanistic climate, Danish Muslims wouldn’t have toured the Middle East with fake versions of the JP cartoons or otherwise embellished their account, but instead given a matter of fact account of the many years of discrimination and increasing disrespect they’ve faced in Denmark.]

[But that climate is nowhere to be found, of course, so we face a situation where the whole Muslim  world is about to boycott Denmark and certain Islamic regimes find it convenient to support these “popular” expressions of outrage, in some cases with intense hypocrisy. JP should have used its freedom of expression to mock these regimes instead, as then it would have been in keep in with freedom of expression as it would have been aimed at dictators.*]


* I assume that he’s referring to Turkey, whose ambassador to Denmark made an especially big stink about the cartoons.  Turkey is indeed an unlikely defender of Islam’s honor, given its own schizophrenic relationship with Islam and its own abysmal record on religious freedom for its 99% Muslim population. 

This is an ideal opportunity for all manner of unsavory Middle Eastern governments to score easy political points with their Muslim constituents. 

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