Coexistence or No Existence

Now that the conflict over the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad is dying down, or so I hope, it is clear that the only winners are the extremists -- in the Islamic World and in Europe.

I regret the fact that the controversy started in my own country when a newspaper chose to publish the cartoons in a naïve effort to demonstrate freedom of expression. It happened last autumn, and at that time I argued publicly against what I regarded as an insensitive act, because it hurt other peoples’ religious feelings. It was also an unnecessary provocation, and constituted in itself a caricature of our cherished freedom of expression, that is guaranteed in our constitution. As my father (an old journalist himself) used to say: Freedom of expression provides a right to say what you think, but it is not an obligation to do so!

When the controversy blew up a few weeks ago, a lot of fuel was added to the fire. Many incorrect stories were circulated. False rumours that the Holy Koran had been burned in demonstrations, false information on the status of Islam in Denmark, incorrect translations of what our Queen had said, etc. This added to the anger, and it led to burning embassies and threats of violence.

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