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.

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