Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Danish PM at Odds with big Business and the Left

At his weekly press conference today the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen responded to criticism of his way of handling the cartoons crisis, which has been described by Danish Media and the political community as the "worst foreign policy crisis Denmark has experienced since World War II".

Fogh Rasmussen called his critics unprincipled. They should defend freedom of speech as steadfastly as he himself has done. He was seconded by the minister of taxation, who said that the business community in Denmark mostly thought of profit instead of the moral and ethical principles of human rights, among them freedom of speech. The managing director of the Danish Association of Industrialists has criticised the government of jeopardising Danish export interests.

It's a paradoxical situation. The Liberal Party (Venstre) is traditionally the defender of the interests of big business, and the party receives donation from business to its election campaigns. It shows that the Liberals (Liberalists) are hard pressed in the cartoons issue.

The left opposition in the Danish parliament has also criticized the handling of the cartoons issue. These politicians criticise the PM for sidetracking the cartoons issue by making it a principled case of freedom of speech. Nobody has called for limitations in the freedom of speech, they argue. The ME countries - the 11 ambassadors sending a letter to Fogh on October 12th - did not want to curtail freedom of speech. They wanted to express their concern about an increasing wave of islamophobia in Denmark. Fogh, on the other hand, took it as a demand to prosecute the Jyllandsposten.

Class matters


A study by academics at University College London (UCL) and Kings College London has given statistical support to the notion that social class is one of the most important factors behind academic achievement in school. When the pupil’s home address is determined the success or lack of success can easily be inferred. A school's success is based not on its teachers, the way it is run, or what type of school it is, but, overwhelmingly, on the class background of its pupils. The report matched almost 1 million pupils with their individual postcode and exam scores at 11 and 15

The study found that, whatever their background, children do better the more "middle-class" the school they attend, and also that more than 50% of a school's performance is accounted for by the social make-up of its pupils.

"The results show that the position of a school in published league tables, the criterion typically used by parents to select successful schools, depends more on the social profile of its pupils than the quality of the teachers," (Richard Webber from University College London).

"For schools the message is clear. Selecting children whose homes are in high-status neighbourhoods is one of the most effective ways of retaining a high position in the league table. For statisticians, meanwhile, it proves that the existing tables, which ignore the types of home from which a school draws its pupils, are necessarily an unfair and imprecise means of judging a school's achievements."

Social class has been anathema to social scientists in the West for many years. It has not been considered in "good taste" to raise the theme of class division in society. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 there has been a general consensus on there not being class division of any importance.

The still more blatant class divisions that can be seen in Western society today has invalidated this view. More and more social scientists come to the conclusion that class becomes more and more important. Maybe the "industrial proletariat" is a thing of the past - or it is being outsourced to China, but then other types of social layers arise. Of course, they may have lower social cohesion and solidarity than the "old" industrial proletariat, but still it is there.

That makes social class an important object for research. And the question of the educational system as a facilitator of social mobility gets into focus again.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Freedom Crusader Criticized by Desmond Tutu

(From cartoons demonstrations in Turkey)

The Danish freedom crusader, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is being criticized by Desmond Tutu. Tutu participates in the UN meeting in the Alliance of Civilizations initiative, where he is interviewed to the Danish paper Politiken (28.2.06).

The Danish cartoons case has dominated big parts of the agenda of this initiative that was started before the cartoons case got under way. It surprises Tutu that Fogh Rasmussen refused to meet the muslims' representatives, for instance the ME ambassadors. He calls it arrogance on the part of the Danish PM. The Danes haven't learned how to live in a multicultural society.

Tutu further thinks it is due to Danes having a kind of subconscious fright dating back to the time when the moors invaded most of Europe. That is probably not correct. The Danes' arrogance is probably more connected to the feeling of superiority that the self flattery about welfare has led to. The Danes are proud of their welfare and the high scores they receive in GDP pr capita comparisons and competitive indexes. What they forget is that this on the other hand must go hand in hand with obligations to other parts of the world where people are not so fortunate. The Danes want to have their cake and eat it too.

Cartoons critical Danish Top politicians accused of unpatriotic activity By Right Wing Populist Pia Kjaersgaard

In her weekly newsletter right wing populist Pia Kjaersgaard accuses two former minister of the opposition parties the Social democrats and Social Liberals, Svend Auken and Helveg Petersen, of unpatriotic activity and treason because they have criticized the publication of the Mohammed cartoons. As she puts it, by appealing to a certain restraint in the way freedom os speech is applied, they fall on their knees for the muslims and betray Western norms and values.

In Pia Kjaersgaard's opinion the cartoons crisis is no longer about the 12 cartoons. It is rather about whether we in the West are able to stick to our values - or whether we'll succumb to religious dogma defined by islam.

Pia Kjaersgaard has had a lot of success with her hard core line in the cartoons issue. In opinion polls her party has advanced considerably so that her party, in case of a general election today, might get over 17 per cent of votes.

Her party will soon be rubbing shoulders with the Social Democrats who have lost votes, so they now stand at about 21-22 per cent. A general election today would give a very comfortable majority to the governing coalition of Liberals, conservatives and the Danish People's Party. The latter is not in government position, but they are expected to be invited into the liberal-conservative government by prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen after the next election.

What we're witnessing is a complete remake of the parliamentary patterns in the Danish parliament. Some years ago it was practically impossible to form a government without the Social Democrats in a leading role. Today the Social Democrats is one among a number of political parties.

Denmark has drifted markedly to the right during the Mohammed crisis.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Designer Democracy?

Designing anglo-American-Danish Democracy.

The skepticism in the ME region during Condoleeza Rice's visit to the Middle East recently was reflected in the blunt questions posed to Rice by Arab journalists.

"In Saudi Arabia, a female journalist, dressed head to toe in a black abaya , demanded: "How is it possible to harmonize the U.S. position as a nation supporting freedom of expression and the right of people to practice democracy with your effort to curb the will of Hamas?"
Egyptian Television's Mervat Mohsen also rattled off a series of tough questions. "American calls for democracy have unwittingly brought unprecedented support for the Muslim Brotherhood, but you're not happy with the Muslim Brotherhood in power," he said. "Is this some kind of designer's democracy then, Dr. Rice?"" (Wash. Post February 25th)

Denmark is helping the United States in the struggle for freedom and democracy in Iraq. Denmark is participating with soldiers in this war that was started on an illegal basis according to international law. Is it really worthwhile fighting for designer democracy that these peoples don't want?

They want to build up their own democracy - not take over one that was imposed on them from the outside.

To a Poor Old Woman

Vermeer: Milkmaid

munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand

They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her

You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand

a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her

C. Williams

Hyperactive Danish Diplomacy

The Danish minister of Foreign Affairs Per Stig Moller has according to Jyllandsposten asked the Dutch government to dampen criticism of EU foreign affairs spokesman Javier Solana's line in - and way of handling - the cartoons crisis. The Dutch think Solana is too apologetic towards Muslim countries political leaders and governments. The Dutch parliament has asked foreign minister Bernhard Bot to repeat the criticism of Solana at the EU meeting of foreign ministers on Monday February 27th in Brussels. Following the phone call from Moller in Copenhagen, Bot will no longer present the criticism at the meeting.

Per Stig Moller thinks that the Dutch risk messing up the cartoons conflict and the Danish government's attempts at solving it.

The Danish government has been working hard at solving the conflict. It might, however, run the risk of getting led up the garden path by muslim leaders. The question of whether a formal apology is necessary, or it is not necessary, has been raised and debated back and forth so many times that the Danish government is making an ass of itself. It has become so eager to please that the total effect may only be ridicule and scorn.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Double Standards in official Danish Defence of Freedom of Speech

An Internet service provider has been forced by Danish police to shut down the website www.ytringsfrihed.nu ("freedomofspeech.now), where the Danish political party The Unitary List (The Red-Green Alliance) has encouraged people to support an appeal for money for the PFLP (People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and the FARC (Forces for the Revolution of Colombia), two movements that have been placed on terror lists by the USA and the EU.

Line Barfod from the Unitary List calls it censorship by the police, when it closes the homepage.

This closure of the internet page reveals some double standards on the part of the Danish government when it defends freedom of speech in the cartoons case. The Unitary List want to defend people's right to express support for freedom fighters in 3rd world countries. There is a long tradition among Danish grassroots organisations for support of freedom movements. Much of this work is now being stopped because of the "war on terror".

When did the Cartoons Crisis start?

Two young immigrants going to a Danish courtroom. They give the press the fuck up finger. It's from a campaign poster Venstre, the Liberal Party in Denmark, used before the election in 2001 that swept the party into the government offices.

The text on the poster says: An immigration policy that is both just and with consequence. "Just" for whom? - For the huddled masses running away from persecution? No, primarily for the Danes' sense of justice. "They'll come to justice", or "justice will come to them", If I may quote a well-known American president. And "with consequence" means, justice has to be carried through to the end. No soft leniency for such scumbags! - Which they may well have been, but that is not the point here.

The poster's implied criticism of the Social Democratic goverment in office is quite clear: Their immigration policy was too lax. An immigration policy with consequence was one of the main ways by which the liberal party could win over a large enough number of voters to win the election.

Since then the immigration issue has been used to win popular support among ethnic Danes. For the first time in more than a century a liberal conservative government can remain in office for more than one election period. The voters reward it because it is generally believed that an immigration policy that is both just and with consequence can only be delivered by such a government. This has hardened the "climate" of political debate considerably in Denmark. There is a straight line from this election campaign up to the publication of the cartoons. Gradually, without people noticing it public debate on immigrant issues in Denmark has hardened.

"Don't you come and provoke us with your fuck up fingers. This is our country. Don't you come here and put your mark on it". They even have the cheek to smile and seem unaffected by the situation. Along with these kinds of sentiments went suspicion that a large part of the immigrants were primarily "economic migrants". The Danish phrase "refugee of convenience" was coined.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Jyllandsposten receives reward for publishing cartoons

The brave act of expressing opinion leads to reception of Danish freedom award.

Jyllandsposten today received a reward for fighting for freedom of speech. It is an annual reward instituted by the Danish paper Ekstrabladet. It is called the Victor prize.

The prize, which consists of a cobblestone with the year of its receipt and name Victor on it, is given for active struggle for freedom of speech (symbolized by the cobblestone, which was used by anarchists in the great revolutions in Europe in the 18th to 20th centuries.

Who Carsten Juste, the chief editor of Jyllandsposten, will throw the cobblestone at, remains to be seen. Let's not hope it'll be at muslims. Now the cartoons story has been eclipsed by the Samarra bombing, so relative calm has set in. A smug Carsten Juste criticized all the wiseguys, like for instance an auditorium of University pundits, - and perhaps people like former foreign minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, for their attitude to the paper saying what it wanted, even though it means bothering the prophet (PBUH).

Ekstrabladet and Jyllandsposten, together with daily Politiken, form part of the biggest publishing house in Denmark. So you can say the prize remains in-house. The in-house media barons keep the prize to themselves in an act of self flattery that is not untypical of Danish press.

The monopoly of the big publishing houses owned by concentrated capital interests is the seamy side of Danish press freedom. It is extremely difficult for people who don't belong to the inner circles of friends, or who are famous, to have anything published in these monopoly papers.

The British daily paper the Guardian has pointed out that Jyllandsposten 3 years ago was against printing a picture making a mockery of Jesus.

And in the mid 1980's the Danish artist Jens Jorgen Thorsen made a painting of Jesus with an erect penis (in stante pene, as the medical expression has it). This picture was exhibited outside a metro station in Copenhagen. At that time Jyllandsposten condemned this very much as a breach of blasphemy and public morals. So we're talking about some double standards on the part of Jyllandsposten. There seems to be no boundaries to Jyllandsposten's bigotry.

The publication of the Mohammed drawings was due to the fact that Jyllandsposten was riding the wave of islamophobia so widespread after the Danish People's Party got a decisive say in the parliamentary majority behind the liberal conservative government.

A Libyan-Danish blogger living in Copenhagen ("Safia Speaks") has desribed it in the following way:"I followed the issue from its very start in September 2005; a loony communist writer proposed to fill a wagon with qurans, then shed some menstruation blood on it (his name is Kare Bluitgen) - he declared he wanted to irritate Muslims for fun (he called it ART!)Nobody took him serious and he was ignored for a while. Then suddenly he declared he wanted to make a comic book about the life of our Prophet Muhammed (SAAS). He could not get anyone to draw the book, though. That started a discussion in the newspapers about why no one would draw the comic - Bluitgen claimed that Muslims had intimidated artists from working on the book. When journalists ridiculed him, he suggested to bring some comic drawings in the media to "test" the reaction of the Muslim community. The rest is history... (reprinted from Kadjateri's, another Libyan blog)"

Jyllandsposten wrote about the Drawings when the paper printed them that "you must be ready to put up with mockery derision and ridicule" (JP, 30.9.2005). Therefore it is beside the point when the paper's top brass again and again say that they did not intend to offend - this was exactly the intention.

This is not about freedom of speech and some Danes' valiant struggle for this right, but rather about insidious islamophobia in Denmark.

Watch around the bend, my Friend

The picture shows a British soldier trying to escape from a tank after it was set on fire by Iraqi protesters in Basra in 2005. The British had just liberated an under-cover British agent who had been arrested by Iraqi police. The British simply ran down the wall around the compound of the prison.

The Askari Mosque ("Goden Dome") in the holy town of Samarra in Iraq has been blown up. No picture of that event here. - Why not? Because the two events, the blowing up of the mosque and the vile deeds of occupation, are connected. And they are in a sense connected to the whole of the occupying coalition in Iraq, including Danish troops in the Basra region. Everybody participating in this war must bear their part of the blame.
Nothing seems to indicate that it was the Americans who blew up the Golden Dome. But they may be partly responsible for the situation that made this heinous act possible. Some people in Iraq want to stir up mayhem at any price, it seems.

What has gone wrong is the way the so-called democratic process has been side-tracked from the beginning. Democracy should not be imposed from outside but be of peoples own design and initiative. The democratic process has so far favoured two of the ethnic groups in the country at the cost of the third one. Of course, this brings ethnic strife.

The Iraqui blogger Riverbend has an account of what this mosque means to Iraquis:

The mosque damaged with explosives today is the “Askari Mosque” which is important because it is believed to be the burial place of two of the 12 Shia Imams- Ali Al-Hadi and Hassan Al-Askari (father and son) who lived and died in Samarra. The site of the mosque is believed to be where Ali Al-Hadi and Hassan Al-Askari lived and were buried. Many Shia believe Al-Mahdi ‘al muntadhar’ will also be resurrected or will reappear from this mosque.I remember visiting the mosque several years ago- before the war. We visited Samarra to have a look at the famous “Malwiya” tower and someone suggested we also visit the Askari mosque. I was reluctant as I wasn’t dressed properly at the time- jeans and a t-shirt are not considered mosque garb. We stopped by a small shop in the city and purchased a few inexpensive black abbayas for us women and drove to the mosque.We got there just as the sun was setting and I remember pausing outside the mosque to admire the golden dome and the intricate minarets. It was shimmering in the sunset and there seemed to be a million colors- orange, gold, white- it was almost glowing. The view was incredible and the environment was so peaceful and calm. There was none of the bustle and noise usually surrounding religious sites- we had come at a perfect time. The inside of the mosque didn’t disappoint either- elaborate Arabic script and more gold and this feeling of utter peace… I’m grateful we decided to visit it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wrapped Up in Spin

According to Danish papers this morning Egypt gave Denmark an opportunity to get out of the cartoons crisis in an honorable way, but the Danish government did not use it.

At the end of November the Egyptian minister for foreign affairs wrote a letter to all contry members of the UN general Assembly and to General secretary Kofi Annan. In the letter the Egyptian foreign minister wrote: "We do not expect any country to take legal or disciplinary steps against a newspaper.... On the other hand we had expected an official Danish declaration underlining the need, and even the obligation to respect all religions...." Similar letters were sent to the EU and the OSCE. This is contrary to the Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's claim that he cannot take legal action against a newspaper, considering the type of political system in Denmark. Fogh continues claiming that the ME ambassadors expected him to take legal action against the Jyllandsposten.

As you often see with the liberal government in Denmark: Complicated matters that require some concrete action have been wrapped up in spin. Is it really possible that anybody can expect a smug little country to act in any way other than empty retoric?

Human rights Watch Critical of Cartoons Publication

The cartoon controversy should be understood against a backdrop of rising Western prejudice and suspicion directed against Muslims, and an associated sense of persecution among Muslims in many parts of the world. In Europe, rapidly growing Muslim communities have become the continent’s largest religious minority but also among its most economically disadvantaged communities and the target of discriminatory and anti-immigration measures. Acts of violence carried out in the name of radical Islamist groups coupled with parallel efforts to suppress that violence have aggravated tensions. So have disputes over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and continuing tensions in the Mideast over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, several authoritarian governments in Muslim countries have seized on the cartoon controversy to deflect pressure from their own citizens for increased official accountability and respect for basic rights.

The HRW is keenly critical. However, it criticizes the legal action taken i some muslim countries against papers and editors that have published the cartoons.

The HRW does not see the publication as an isolated event, but sees it in the connection with social inequality and rising prejudice in Western countries against the muslim minority. It is also seen in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iraq war.

A muslim living in Denmark writes in an Arab blog about the cartoon case history, as she has followed it:

I followed the issue from its very start in September 2005; a loony communist writer proposed to fill a wagon with qurans, then shed some menstruation blood on it (his name is Kare Bluitgen) - he declared he wanted to irritate Muslims for fun (he called it ART!)Nobody took him serious and he was ignored for a while. Then suddenly he declared he wanted to make a comic book about the life of our Prophet Muhammed (SAAS). He could not get anyone to draw the book, though. That started a discussion in the newspapers about why no one would draw the comic - Bluitgen claimed that Muslims had intimidated artists from working on the book. When journalists ridiculed him, he suggested to bring some comic drawings in the media to "test" the reaction of the Muslim community. The rest is history...

This impressions seems to be confirmed by Danish sources: Jyllandsposten wrote about the Drawings when the paper printed them that you must be ready to put up with mockery derision and ridicule (JP, 30.9.2005). Therefore it is beside the point when the paper's top brass again and again say that they did not intend to offend - this was exactly the intention.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Send the enemy within out!

Even though there is a ban on printing prophets we make an exception.

The Danish People's Party suggests sending the imams and other immigrants working against the interests of Denmark out of the country. Even if they are Danish citizens, the DPP wants all possible legal means to abolish their citizenship examined and eventually carried out.
Then we must ask: What about freedom of expression? Does that not apply to these "enemies within" (as Pia Kjaersgaard calls them in her weekly letter to the people), even when they go to ME countries and talk to people there?

There seem to be some rights for "established Danes" and the other "Danes", non-Danes, or whatever the appropriate term?

Prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen reacted with great caution to the suggestion at his press conference on February 21st. Will he let The Danish People's Party hijack government policy once again and once again let Denmark come at odds with Western humanitarian civilization. That remains to be seen. Thank God we have the European Union: Let's be early adopters of an extended cooperation in the legal field!

The Social Democrats also expressed some caution at the proposal. They did exclude expatriation of those with Danish citizenship, however.
After the humiliation of seeing flag and embassy burnings the silent majority want to see corpses on the table. Freedom of expression or no freedom of expression! And the politicians better react quickly! As usual the DPP knows how to interpret the sentiments in the deep well of the popular subconscious. - Speak out caveman, forget your sorrows, have a Carlsberg!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Jyllandsposten cartoon and other stereotypes

Well known images from European history (Nazi magazine Der Stürmer). Are these ways of describing people and movements by way of stereotypes going to be repeated?

Jyllandsposten beginning February.

Mona Omar: "This case we can jointly prophet from". Mona Omar, former Egyptian ambassador to Denmark, with Danish imams Abu Laban and Ahmed Akkari in the Jyllandsposten cartoon beginning February.

Akkari: "Yeah, they must be snubbed" (pig's snout).

What is interesting in this cartoon is the cartoonist's depiction of "muslim stereotypes". It is not only the camel in the picture on the wall, but also the way especially Abu Laban is depicted. Abu Laban is a common target for hate campaigns in Denmark. He is regarded as the quintessence of "islamist fundamentalism". Look at the way he has been drawn, the big nose, prominent jaw, clown's pants. Akkari is a little guy, he is depicted with large, protruding pig's ears.

The prominent politician Mogens Camre, member of the European parliament for the right wing Danish People's party (DPP), has given verbal expression to muslim stereotypes. At the congress of the Danish People's party in 2004 he spoke about Turkish application for membership of the EU:

The Turkish government are a bunch of fundamentalists, who have dressed up in democratic attire..... The Turks do not intend to become Westerners. The Turks want to islamise Europe. And the Turkish government wants to cheat its way in. .... The muslims give birth to much too many children, and they do not have enough opportunities to feed them in their own backward countries, which produce next to nothing. Therefore they have decided to conquer Europe. (Mogens Camre's homepage). And about islam he said:

The two big dictatorship ideologies, we have seen the last 100 years, lived in 12, respectively 70 years. Islam has survived for nearly 1400 years, and we're naïve, if we think we can change this ideology within a few decades. But we must do whatever we can do to stop the diffusion of the islamists' ideology, because it threatens the whole world. ....... Let me say it clearly, muslims must live in muslim country - and that is not here.

Stereoptypes and hate campaigns of this kind have been widespread some time before in European history, for instance in the 1930's, when the German nazis thought that the Jews wanted to conquer the world.

The problem for the Danish liberal-conservative government is that it has based its parliamentary majority on this right wing political movement. The DPP has a virtual veto on all government policy.

Little Fairy Tale Country - what happened?

A Peace Loving Nation with high technology warfare

You would have to look hard for a country with a better brand-name than Denmark. It’s not only the home of Hans Christian Andersen, the country seems to live in one of his fairy tales. The people are pretty and prosperous, the land is green and fertile, and the towns are colorful and squeaky clean. Denmark’s queen is much beloved by her people and hails from the oldest monarchy in Europe. Who could ever imagine that this
lovely little land would spark riots sweeping the Islamic world
(CBS News)?

This is the way Denmark is described in a CBS news programme "The State of Denmark". - So we can safely assume: Something is rotten in the state of Denmark! Yes, in a way. According to the programme. Denmark is a smug little country that has been living without serious conflicts for many years. Therefore the cartoons crisis comes as a big surprise. And the Danes are extremely innocent about it. A Dane with big blue eyes and surprise is the man who is claimed to have started the whole thing, according to the American TV channel:

"Kare Bluitgen, a writer of children’s books. "Well, it’s sad to see what happens now," Buitgen says. "I wrote a book about the Prophet Muhammad to promote better understanding between cultures and religions here in Denmark." Bluitgen had trouble finding someone to illustrate his book."

Innocence personified!!

Anyone who knows the political climate in Denmark sees the crisis as a result of a more complex social and political situation that some people have known to take advantage of.

We have to hear the old rigmarole about folkloristic Denmark, the little Mermaid, the Queen and the Royal Guard, the blonde girls.

We don't much about Denmark the country at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, participants in the crusade against the infidels who do not have the right grasp of what democracy, freedom and tolerance stand for.

Arla has never boycotted Israel

Arla never boycotted Israel, Arla writes on its homepage today. The news on this boycott was printed in the Jyllandsposten. But it is not correct, according to Arla. The company writes: "Arla has en export of milk powder, cheese and butter to Israel at an annual value of 30 million $, and it is hence not correct, when several media writes that Arla boycotts Israel.

"We have never boycotted Israel, and nor have we consigned to do so any places. On the contrary, we have increasing trade with Israel, vice CEO Andreas Lundby says.

When Arla exports its goods to Saudi Arabia, Arla declares in a certificate of origin that Arla's products are Danish and are not produced in Israel, nor contains ingredients from Israel.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Not full equality of religion in Denmark

The lutheran state church is the dominant religious community in Denmark. It is mentioned in the constitution, and the Queen is an obligatory member of this church.

Otherwise church and state are kept separate in Denmark. About 85 per cent of the Danes are members of the Lutheran state church, and they pay a special church tax, about 1 per cent of declared income. The income from this tax goes to the Lutheran church.

The other recognized religious communities (included muslims) can finance their activities through a right to deduct the money their members pay to their religion from the declared tax income.There are about 200.000 muslims in Denmark. Most of them are immigrants and descendants of immigrants from Turkey, the Middle East and other muslim areas. A lot of efforts are done to integrate them in the Danish society in such a way that their distinctive culture and religion is respected. Still the Danes could do a lot more.

Especially in the religious area more can be done for integration.The Danish state church should not be a church for only Christian Lutheran protestants. Perhaps it should not be called a “church”. It should either be a comprehensive umbrella for all officially recognised religions, including islam, or else the Christian church should be cut loose from the state, so all religious communities will be truly equal. Births and deaths are registered by the state church. That means that it has been difficult for muslims in thinly populated areas to find burial places. Some have chosen to be buried in their original home lands.

Omar Marzauk, a Danish comedian of immigrant background, has jokingly said that he should have been born a poodle, not a Muslim: “Dogs in this nation have their own burial grounds, and Muslims don't," he has said in one of his shows. "So I either have to be sent out of this country in a box or change my name to “Fluffy”". Like most satire, there is some truth also in this satire: Denmark's Muslims have found it hard to find land for Islamic cemeteries.Denmark is a secular country. Science and rational thought dominate.

Even though most Danes are members of the state church, a lot are not very religious. They do not attend church regularly; it is mostly for baptizing, weddings, burials, and as a family event around christmas, that they go to the church. Religion has become an empty ritual for most people. They do not listen to the priest's words. They don't mean anything to them.Power shopping for smart clothes, furniture, expensive houses and fast cars is actually the dominant "religion" to many people in Denmark

The letter from 11 ambassadors

Click on the title above, and you get to the letter from the 11 ambassadors for Middle East countries and the PA to the Danish Prime Minister October 12th.

To the left minister of culture Brian Mikkelsen, who is mentioned in the ambassadors' letter. At the Congress of his political party, the Conservatives, in September 2005, he started a new phase of his "cultural campaign" for "Danish values" saying:

"In the middle of our country - our own country - a parallel community is developing, where minorities are practising medieval norms and undemocratic ways of thinking. This we cannot accept. Here we have the new front in the cultural battle".

There is a slight exaggeration in the ambassadors' letter when they say "war" about Brian Mikkelsen's culture campaign. He uses the Danish word kamp, which is not war among nations, but rather a "battle". But he uses the word "front", which does have warlike connotations.

The letter has provoked a political storm against the government. The opposition claims that the government has given incomplete information about the contents of the letter and acted accordingly. The ambassadors are not only dissatisfied with the Jyllandsposten drawings but the whole climate of debate in Denmark. In his reporting the case to the Danish public Anders Fogh Rasmussen has stated that they want him to take legal action against Jyllandsposten. The ambassadors want him to "take all those responsible to task under the law of the land", which may mean something else than prosecution in court.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen turned it rather prematurely into a heroic struggle for freedom of speech, with himself in the role of valiant crusader for this basic human right, which - do not misunderstand me - we must do the utmost to protect. Without it, this blog might not be possible.

I'll soon be able to show you the fuck up fingers that were a culmination in the wider battle for Danish values.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

"An open and tolerant Society"

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is an open and tolerant man. He is the prime minister of an "open and tolerant country". This is what he has been telling TV audiences in Middle East countries when he has appeared on TV here. It is not Orwellian newspeak. Sometimes spindoctors help make the slogans, but Mr. Rasmussen is also a man capable of spin himself.

The openness and freedom loving personal disposition was given full blow in the 2001 election campaign for the Danish parliament that brought Mr. Rasmussen to power. Rasmussen and his fellow liberals from Venstre, the liberal1 party in Denmark, were so open and freedom loving that they had to express their openness and love of freedom of speech in big campaign ads telling the Danish voters what the main problems in Denmark were at that time.

The ad shown above was printed and distributed in a million copies. Schools, factories, offices, shops - everywhere you had to witness the young Palestinians and their "fingers". It shows Palestinian immigrants leaving the court after being sentenced several years of prison for "mass rape". They are aggressive and wave people away. They give the fuck up finger (not to be seen on this ad), but most voters know the scene. They have seen the young palestinians give the fuck up finger, when they leave the court. But luckily we're are up for change (Tid til forandring, "Time for Change", Venstre's campaign slogan). This, of course, was not a question of whipping up sentiments against immigrants, but of showing reality as it is. Even though you could say that they perhaps ought to have found a more appropriate means for that.

Anyway, the message that nobody could misunderstand if they wanted to keep a peaceful society, is the following : You just have to vote for Venstre, instead of the Social Democrats (= too soft on immigration). In the lower left corner you can see a smiling Mr. Rasmussen and his personal signature. In the lower right corner the voter is encouraged to vote for Venstre.

And that is what people did. Mr. Rasmussen won a landslide victory for Venstre. He could move into the PM's office in Christiansborg Castle and start working for the change (forandring). And so what ....... nothing happened. - Except in one area, the policy of immigration. In other areas it has been a government suffering from mental and political paralysis.

The Danes love their welfare society, and they didn't want it changed. But they did not want to share their welfare with others! That is perhaps understandable, even though you have quite a lot of it. Anyway, Mr. Rasmussen got the message.

The sweeping free market reforms of the Danish economy he had envisaged and given lofty word to in speeches around the country came to nothing. He moved centre and became a supporter of the paternalistic welfare state that he had thundered against in his famous book from 1992 "From Welfare state to minimalistic state".

But in one area there were sweeping changes. - Sometimes rather "un-liberal" - or outright anti-liberal policies. The movement of persons had to be restricted, especially those who came from certain countries.

The highly educated experts and academics were welcome. They were even given tax benefits. But please: Not too many low-educated peasants from Turkish villages! You know, we have nothing against them at the human level. After all another one of the Liberals' spindoctor slogans is: "Put man first", but you must understand that illiterate peasant types do not go too well with the advanced info-society, digital economy and globalised modern corporations working in the free market-place!

Thus Mr. Rasmussen through his campaign ad in 2001, cooperation with the far right, spindoctor slogans, and later immigration policies is responsible for having created a "cultural climate" in Denmark, where there is some reservation, to say the least, towards new-comers, some islamophobia perhaps.

Louise Frevert, a member of Parliament from the right wing Danish People's party, which supplies the necessary mandates for the Danish government's parliamentary majority, has called muslims a "cancerous growth". Mogens Camre, a member of the European Parliament for the Danish People's, has talked of the risk of islam taking over the entire country through Jihad.

Here is a sample of Louise Frevert's writing. It is from a debate with the social liberal politician Margrete Vestager:

I can very well understand that you’re tempted to get more votes by supporting the muslims in Denmark, but the bill will have to be paid some day, and it can be expensive for the country. I do not think of the 6 bn. $ tax payers’ money, which it costs to have these people living in this country – per year – it is far more dangerous that the social liberals contribute to securing that these foreigners – not integratable citizens – will establish a power apparatus in our country, which our legislation, and hence our authorities, are not at all geared to handle. The Muslim Brotherhood has largely a free playing field in Naïve Goofy’s homeland, and of course they exploit this in an optimal way…... none of the parliamentary parties used the elections campaign to discuss the march forward of muslims…

These could be the words of a nutty individual, but the point here is that they represent a substantial part of the public debate in Denmark. These politicians are Mr. Rasmussen's coalition partners.

The muslims are not seen as contributors to Danish society ("6 bn. $". She forgets that a lot of them have jobs and pay taxes) . This kind of debate makes the PM's words about a tolerant society look silly. A lot of public debate in Denmark has been xenophobic and islamophobic. The cartoons are part of this wave.

The leader of the Danish People's party, Pia Kjaersgaard, has talked about "The enemy within" and "seeds of bad weeds" (Frø af ugræs) being blown into the country when refugees from certain places in the world have applied for asylum in Denmark. Denmark now has the toughest immigration laws in all of Europe.

The bridge from Copenhagen to Sweden is called the "love bridge" because couples of mixed nationalities have had to move to Sweden, even though they still work in Copenhagen, and one of the couple is a Danish citizen (there you have your "open society").

1: In Danish politics "liberal" means liberalistic, in favour of a free market economy and limited state intervention.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Egyptian government behind Escalation of Mohammed crisis

According to Danish papers this morning it is probably the Egyptian government which is responsible for the escalation of the cartoons crisis. Egypt put pressure on the Danish government after the Danish PM Mr. Rasmussen refused to meet 11 ambassadors from muslim countries. Four days after Mr. Rasmussens rejection of holding a meeting with the ambassadors the Danish ambassador in Cairo was called to a meeting in the Egyptian foreign ministry where a high level official of the Egyptian government demanded that the Danish government reject the drawings for instance through an official declaration that condemns mockery of islam or the prophet. The ambassador was warned that otherwise the problem might escalate.

When the Danish government did not distance itself from the drawings in the required fashion, the Egyptian government addressed the UN, EU's Solana, the Arab League and the OIT. And it was the Egyptian foreign office more than the Danish islams that saw to it that knowledge of the drawings was spread out to the Middle East countries. Mona Omar Attia, the Egyptian ambassador, met with the Danish Imams several times before their trips to the Middle East. She has probably orchestrated part of their campaign journey.

Yesterday the Egyptian ambassador to Denmark was called home, perhaps considered persona non grata by the Danish government. She will be stationed in Pretoria, South Africa.

The drawings were printed in an Egyptian newspaper already in October, a newspaper with a big circulation.

The Egyptian government is hard pressed by the Moslem Brotherhood which gained popular support in the recent parliamentary elections in the autumn. The Mohammed cartoons may have been a welcome opportunity for the government to call attention from corruption cases and to gain legitimacy with the man in the street.

The cow theme in Danish and Saudi Cartoon Art

There is something called peaceful co-existence, where you can compete without becoming enemies.
You try to see who is best at something, for instance in this case cartoons, and then you can have a wholesome laugh about it. No harm's done. You don't have to hurt the other party's finer sentiments. If you know that the relationship is based on mutual love, understanding and respect, you can feel free to laugh a hearty laugh at something the other one cherishes the most. Take for instance the Danes. They have very fond feelings for the cow. They can nearly compete with the Hindus in this respect. They might be hurt when they see this cow (Arab News beginning of February), jumping or being thrown up in the air and entering a string that may mean the death of it. Or if it doesn't meet its death this way it may come to a more violent end due to the explosive contents of its stomach, placed there by some friendly person, who wisheds the best for Danish dairy products.

The Danes also know how to make funny cartoons. Sometimes the target is found abroad, sometimes it is found among themselves. In this cartoon (Roald Als in Daily Politiken beginning February) You hear Danish foreign minister Per Stig Moeller complain about the Muslim consumer boycott. The man in front with both arms raised is the CEO of Dansk Industry (Confederation of Danish Industri). He critized the Danish government's handling of the cartoons crisis. The members of his organization have lost substantial export orders. What is the cost - or value - of freedom of speech? In a biblical sense there is no doubt about which value is heaviest. But in this context we try to not let religious sentiments interfere.

The two very little caracters crouching and bowing to the Cow are Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in his cave man costume, and Pia Kjaersgaard the leader of the Danish People's party. These two are the two most powerful Danish politicians. He is PM and leader af Venstre, the Danish liberal Party, which forms the government in Denmark, together with the Conservatives. The Danish People's party is the parliamentary support party that supplies the votes necessary for the government's parliamentary majority. Dancing to the right (with a V) is the finance minister.

Why does Anders Fogh Rasmussen wear a cave man's costume? This is the cartoonist's way of describing his ideological transformation from a hard core liberalist believing in the virtues of the free market system to a more softspoken responsible politician, who is also preoccupied with maintaining a well-functioning welfare society in Denmark. The money saved on development aid to poor countries is given to old age pensioners. That secures the government's longevity.
Anders Rasmussen was hard core right wing when this stand could favour his career among the young lions of the liberal party. When he got closer to power he knew instinctively that to get the top post and keep it, he would have to move towards the centre of Danish politics, which means that he is squeezing the once dominant Social Democratic party in the centre of the political spectrum in the Danish parliament.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Danish PM wants to Downplay Importance of Religion in Denmark

The Danish Prime Minister (PM) Anders Fogh Rasmussen was interviewed on the national public service TV channel on wednesday night. Here he expressed the view that religion has become a too dominant force in public debate in Denmark. "It will threaten social cohesion", he said. The PM is clearly under a lot of pressure due to the Mohammed drawings, and this is his way of striking back.

His views on the role of religion has united the dominant religions in Denmark, the Lutheran state church, the Muslim religious communities, the Jewish community and the Catholics. Leaders of the religious communities have critizised these viewpoints and said that a precondition for social cohesion in a society is that people are free to express their religions also in the public space.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a liberal, market economy oriented politician. It is difficult to create social cohesion in society with such values. Dancing around the gilded cow has seldom created social cohesion in itself.
The biggest problem for Anders Fogh Rasmussen, however, is the fact that he has made himself an easy target for accusations of "islamophobia", because he gets parliamentary support for his minority government from the right-wing Danish People's party. This has led to the toughest asylum and integration laws in Europe. A lot of young Danish couples of mixed nationalities working in Copenhagen have settled just across the Sound in Malmoe Sweden to escape the tough immigration laws that makes it impossible for people under 24, who are married to Danes, to get residence permits. The bridge across the Sound is called the "love bridge" in the popular vernacular.
Because of this parliamentary coalition Denmark has cut back drastically on development assistance programs to poorer countries. And Denmark is a member of the coalition waging war in Iraq.
Under previous governments Denmark worked in close cooperation with governments and even national liberation movements in the third world to foster development through support for development programs. Denmark was one of the countries that took the initiative to boycott South Africa under apartheid. Now Denmark participates with the US, Britain and Australia in a rather doubtful Western crusade for "freedom and democracy". Danish cartoonists have portrayed Anders Fogh Rasmussen as a puppy being patted on the head by Mr. Bush.
This is giving the Fogh Rasmussen government a rather tarnished image in the non-Western world, - and even in parts of the Western world as well. The cartoons crisis probably has to be seen in this perspective too. It is not only about religion. Anders Fogh Rasmussen must address this complex issue if he wants to solve the crisis in the long run.

Who has a right to be pissed off at whom?

Muslim demonstrators may say so (picture).
But actually blasphemy is not allowed in Denmark. When muslim demonstrators then wonder why the Danish government does not crack down on Jyllandsposten and its editor, they must try to understand that this is not the way the system of government works in Denmark.
Denmark is a constitutional monarchy. There is a Queen, but she has only ceremonial functions. She is not to have any political influence or power whatsoever. Real power is vested in the Danish parliament (Folketinget). Members of parliament are elected by all voters, i.e. all citizens above 18 years of age. The whole system is based on the division of powers. Legislative power resides in parliament. Executive power resides in the government. And the judicial power resides in the courts. The parliament passes the laws. The government and the ministries execute the laws through administration, and the courts make judgments based on the rules in the laws.
Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Danish constitution and Danish law generally. Therefore the Danish government cannot “bring Jyllandsposten to justice” for publishing the cartoons, nor stop the paper printing them. This can only be done if the drawings violate Danish legislation. Perhaps they do. On this point, however, there is some doubt. The issue may have to be tried in court.
Freedom of speech – even in the Danish variant of this basic human right - is not a right that entitles a person to automatically say anything imaginable about a person or a subject matter. Freedom of speech is limited by other laws, for instance the penal code’s rules about libel. Nor are people allowed to talk derisively or condescendingly about religious groupings. According to the penal code article 140:

§ 140(Danish penal code). Anybody who publicly mocks or derides the dogma of any religious community in this country or its divine worship is to be punished with a fine or imprisonment up to 4 months. .

By dogma may be meant not only the Qu'ran's text, but perhaps also religious rules defined by the muslim clergy. There is no ban against depicting the Prophet (pbuh) in the Qu'ran. It is on the other hand part of what may be called dogma. It is possible to find pictures of the Prophet (pbuh), also pictures made by muslim artists. In these instances the purpose, however, is not to mock. § 140 has only led to a court sentence once, in 1938 in an anti-semitic trial. There was an attempt at using it again in the beginning of the 1970's when a singer made a song making some mild mockery of Jesus. It did not lead to a sentence. The question of whether Jyllandsposten may be sentenced, will depend on the court's assessment of Jyllandsposten's intent. If the intent was mockery of religion, there is a clear case for a sentence. Jyllandsposten has claimed that it wanted to test freedom of expression after some artists claimed they were exerting self-censorship because of fear of muslim retribution after the Van Gogh murder in the Netherlands. So it all depends on the judges' assessment of the validity of this explanation.

There is also an article in the penal code that bans expressions of a racist kind:

§ 266B (Danish penal code): Anybody who publicly or with deliberation makes utterances in a broader circle, by means of which a group of people are threatened, mocked or degraded because of their race, skin colour, national or ethnic background, faith or sexual orientation, is to be punished with a fine or by imprisonment for up to 2 years.

11 muslim organisations in Denmark have reported the publication of the drawings to the police. A district attorney in the Danish town of Viborg has refused the case on grounds that the violation of § 140 is not clear enough for the public prosecutor to take action. This decision has been appealed to the General Attorney in Copenhagen, who is considering the case. His decision will be final. In case of a confirmation of the district attorney’s decision, the minister of Justice in the Danish government can decide that the case be tried in court.
This is the only procedure available for the prosecution and eventual punishment of Jyllandsposten and/or the cartoonists. It may seem meagre to the demonstrators who are enraged at the treatment of their prophet. But there is no other way, unless the Danish constitution and system of government be changed. And that is not an option. It's difficult to change the Danish constitution. It must be done by a majority in parliament. Then again by a newly elected parliament, and finally by referendum in which a majority that constitutes at least 40 per cent of voters vote for the constitutional amendments.


Now new images of Abu Ghraib abuse are released. According to BBC news "Detainees are forced to perform sexual acts. A young girl holds up her shirt, bearing her breasts for the soldier's camera".

Again according to BBC "The US government professed shock at the contents of the images, but said they should not have been released". Here we have your freedom of speech!
There have been a number of encroachments on this liberty. In the beginning of the Iraq war one could see pictures of the coffins of dead American soldieres flown home. For some reason it was no longer permitted to show these pictures. The news stream on fighting in Iraq is controlled by the Americans. What valuable information can you get from "embedded journalists"?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Excuse us for something I didn't do!

The retired Danish ambassador Herluf Hansen is travelling around in the Middle East apologizing for the prophet cartoons, Danish newspapers report this morning under big headlines. It's a private tour. Top politicians in the governing liberal party are very sceptical of this way of making private foreign policy, but they recognize Mr. Hansen's right to travel wherever he wants and say whatever he wants.
Mr. Hansen's connections and his rank and former position makes it possible for him to get access to high level officials in ME countries, and he has been interviewed to Algerian newspaper El Watan. Mr. Hansen tries to explain the Danish system of government, and how freedom of speech is interpreted in a Danish context.
According to Mr. Hansen, the editor of Jyllandsposten has made the fatal error of equating muslim with fundamentalist. A lot of people in Denmark have not understood that, he says, probably with an address as well to the liberal-conservative government under Anders Fogh Rasmussen's leadership.
At the same time Mr. Hansen gives the Arabs a lecture in social studies by explaining to them how the Danish system of government is based on the division of powers drawn up by political philosophers like John Locke and Montesquieu. Therefore neither the Danish prime minister, nor the government as such, can stop the free actions of a newspaper.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Who is responsible for the Danish cartoons crisis that has so far cost hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of $ in lost export earnings?
The focus has so far been on Danish imams that toured the Middle East with copies of the cartoons - and a few more pictures that turned out to be fakes or depicting something else. Now focus is increasingly directed at Egypt and the Egyptian ambassador to Denmark. This morning the papers report that the Egyptian Ambassador has been called to a meeting in the Ministry of foreign Affairs in Copenhagen, where she has been asked to account for the embassy's role. It appears that the ambassador has been spreading the story in the ME that islam is not a recognized faith in Denmark, which is blatantly incorrect. 19 islamic religious communities are recognized by the Danish state. This means that economic contributions to the religious community are tax deductible.
The Egyptian ambassador has not yet commented on the matter.


It takes at least a few hundred Danes to fight shrill, uncivilised madness

The city council of Basra has ordered the Danish forces (530 soldiers) out of the Basra region. They are not welcome there as long as Denmark has not given an official apology for the prophet drawings.

This is serious indeed. If the city council succeeds in ousting them, the Danes are no longer capable of helping the Americans in the "war on terror".

It's a pity. The Danes have developed their own version of the "war on terror", which is a kind of low intensity, friendly warfare, - if it is possible to be friendly and an occupying soldier at the same time?
To the Danes this is not impossible. They are repeating former colonial successes of the British. It is the white man's burden to help the ignorant og subjugated peoples out of their miserable state of underdevelopment. The message of freedom and democracy western style must be promulgated. And now they're perhaps going to be thrown out! - Before the mission is accomplished.

What mission exactly? Well, isn't that evident? Good governance - whatever that is.

Commission President in Defense of Denmark

"Hurra! One more embassy on fire!"

Finally it happens! Many Danes have waited for this world historical event. What does Commission chairman Manuel Barroso think of the maltreatment of Denmark in the muslim world? After all, Denmark is a full member of the European Union (EU), end the EU has a common foreign policy.
"Stick it out", Barroso tells the Danes. This is a truly revolutionary message, worthy of a true statesman. "Denmark is a country I respect very much. It is a tolerant and open country, which is in the front line in the areas of peace policies and development assistance. Therefore recent events are very unjustified. It is unjust to any country, but particularly to Denmark", Barroso said yesterday, after thinking for a long time and weighing his words very carefully.
These are words of a true polyglot statesman, the president of Europe. It probably worries this man of peace to see Danish embassies being burnt down; after all, Danish embassies are a kind of EU embassies.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Anders Fogh Rasmussen calls for Dialogue

The Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has ended his meeting with Democratic Muslims today. According to spokesman and leader Naser Khader it has about 700 members and 3000 supporters.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen thanked them for their active contribution to solving the crisis of the Mohammed drawings.
- They have corrected a lot of the misinformation spread in the muslim world about Denmark. A false image of Denmark as a closed and intolerant society has thus emerged. According to the PM, that is wrong. Denmark is an "open and tolerant society", where every individual is free to express his or her religion. Since the conservative-liberal government took over in 2001 the number of work permits given to foreigners has increased, acording to the PM, and an increased number of foreigners study in Denmark. Besides the total employment of immigrants has gone up with nearly 15.000, the prime minister said.
He admitted that Denmark was confronted with big challenges in its integration policy. He was glad that Democratic Muslims had given him suggestions for the government's policy in the government initiated globalisation council that is preparing Denmark for the challenges of globalisation. More jobs must be found for immigrants, he said.

Big deal! Rasmussen explained why the imams and more radical groups among the immigrant population were not invited to the meeting. He had previously held a meeting with them and saw a more urgent need for listening to advice from the new organisation of moderate muslims.
It is part of a parliamentary balancing act. The conservative-liberal government depends on support from the islamophobic Danish People's Party. The 15.000 jobs is not an issue that can be considered a feat of the present government. It is largely due to the economic boom Denmark has experienced lately. The labour market is running out of employable labour, and employers are ready to do anything to get workers, including luring muslim women homerunners into jobs. No wonder unemployment among the immigrant population falls. Nor is the PM willing to listen to voices that demand a withdrawal of the Danish troops in Iraq. Denmark is part of the American led "coalition of the willing".


Famous cartoon of the eternal shepherd. No crusade for freedom of speech - which is lovely, but kind of an abstract idea. "Without freedom of speech, I might be in the swamp"- as Bob Dylan sings in his ballad Motopsyko Nightmare. He is on the road on his motorbike and ends up with a very conservative farmer in the middle of the American bible belt. The farmer has a daughter called Rita, and she "looks like she stepped out of la dolce vita".

Before seeing Rita he has yelled at the farmer "I like Fidel Castro and his beard". - Just to be sure that he would get the hell out of the place. But seeing Rita the old male chauvinist understands that he "has to cool it with the Dad." So very useful freedom of speech can turn out to be.

Watch the kind of fickle facial expression that this shepherd - so sadly typical of many slightly obese welfare Danes - ain't worth looking at anyway.

But one should admire the artistic accomplishments in this drawing, the rather drab, predictable geometrical regularity (sun and beast - not the man, but what the man is holding on a leash - juxtaposed). Notice the sandals. The relaxed outfit. We're rather on holiday with a package tour operator than at work grazing sheep. The ideal Greek shepherd portrayed by drab Danish normality. So what is all the fuss really about? - Art or Fidel Castro's beard - or perhaps something much more sinister? No, not sinister! but rather the artistic punch that real art can inflict on the unprotected human mind.


Ha, ha, it looks like an octopus. Or some kind of psycho-strange mouth. Wouldn't it just be hilarious if I put some vampire teeth into it, and then we could make a creepy home video. And publish it on the web. Ha, Ha. Caption below drawing: The reason why women rarely prefer young lovers.

Can anybody be shocked at this kind of humour? What is the purpose of it?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Anders Fogh drives a wedge into muslim community in Denmark

A new organisation has come to light in Denmark. The muslim member of Parliament for the Centre-radical party Naser Khader has taken the initiative to form the organisation Democratic Muslims. They are tired of being bunked together with the imams and the more radical elements in the faith based muslim organisations that have been dominant so far. Many Danes, also muslim immigrants, are tired of the imams - not least after their tour of the Mid East where they showed the Prophet drawings, and a few more drawings, provoking a hate wave against Denmark.

This new organisation was hardly formed before it was invited to prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's residence for at meeting. The prime minister wants to reinforce dialogue with the muslim community in Denmark. The fact that only the moderate muslims were invited led to a barrage of criticism. The Democratic Muslims were not representative of all muslims. Naser Khader is also a believing muslim, but of a more euro-islam oriented kind. The need for reconciliation in the Danish society is so big now that he was mentioned as a possible candidate for the prime minister post in the leading public service channel TV on Friday night. That is perhaps going a bit too far, but the man is immensely popular in broad layers of the Danish population. The Radical Party, he represents, can be compared to the Liberal Democrats in the UK. It's a social liberal party with a progressive policy on immigration problems.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen's invitation to Khader pleases the latter, but it has led to an immense outcry of protest from the imams who feel obviously shortcircuited.

Women's rights - the road to social development?

The first session of day two of the Seventh Jeddah Economic Forum in the beginning of February began with a focus on women. Cherie Blair, a lawyer and wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, spoke about women's rights as a key to solving social problems. According to Arab News she said that "these rights are not a Western concept that is being forced on other cultures as some think. Instead, she said, these rights are shared by all religions, including Islam, which has given women a special status". According to Arab News she did not elaborate on the situation of women in Western countries. The paper is right about the fact that women have not acquired a complete equality with men in any Western countries - but at least they are allowed to get a driver's licence. In Northern Europe the proportion of women in parliaments and governments is approaching 40 per cent. Men on average still make more than women. But women are catching up. Maybe women are more exposed to domestic violence in the West compared to the East. Anyway, the following poem expresses beautifully the plight - or is it happiness - of women in Arab countries?

Iranian woman’s poem about the wonders of wearing the Hijab taken from Gates of Vienna.http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2005/08/poem-for-women-in-islam.html.

Be Proud of Hijab
You look at me and call me oppressed,
Simply because of the way I'm dressed,
You know me not for what's inside,
You judge the clothing I wear with pride,
My body's not for your eyes to hold,
You must speak to my mind,
not my feminine mold,
I'm an individual,
I'm no mans slave,
It's Allah’s pleasure that I only crave,
I have a voice so I will be heard,
For in my heart I carry His word,
"O ye women, wrap close your cloak,
So you won't be bothered by ignorant folk",
Man doesn't tell me to dress this way,
It's a Law from God that I obey,
Oppressed is something I'm truly NOT,
For liberation is what I've got,
It was given to me many years ago,
With the right to prosper, the right to grow,
I can climb mountains or cross the seas,
Expand my mind in all degrees,
For God Himself gave us LIB-ER-TY,
When He sent Islam, To You and Me!

Dick Cheney shot a man

Dick Cheney shot a lawyer pal on a hunting outing in Texas. The hostess of the ranch where the celebrity stunt took place says that she has also been "peppered" once or twice, and this can be unpleasant, but it is only dangerous if you hit the eyes. And this, fortunately, did not happen this time.
Cheney's nerves may be sitting on the outside of his clothes. That is understandable considering the pressure this administation is exposed to with the war on terror and revelations of how the details of security data on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction were transformed in various ways.

Not the prophet

The Danish paper Jyllandsposten publishes the 12 prophet drawings on September 30. In October 11 ambassadors from Muslim countries stationed in Copenhagen ask for at meeting with the Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He refuses to meet them. A delegation of representatives (imams) from Danish Muslim organisations make a tour of the Middle East where they inform Arab muslims about the drawings. They also show some drawings that have nothing to do with Jyllandsposten among them one of a Frenchman who is participating in a French pork feast.How could this happen. There is no doubt that the Danish imams have been very eager to drive home a certain point. The Frenchman may ask whether it's an honour to be mistaken for the prophet? He would never have anticipated that taking part in a pork feast would lead to world fame. But that is nevertheless the case. The imams may ask themselves whether they have helped integration between ethnic Danes and muslim immigrants to move forward in Denmark by spreading this kind of propaganda in Arab countries, or whether they have been guilty in sacrilege by claiming that this be an image of the prophet