Northern Light

Mohammed Cartoon on Election Posters

This week Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen called elections for November 13, and today Danish People’s party announced that they will place election posters around the country with a cartoon of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

They do not hide that they are inspired by the cartoon crisis in 2006 that put Denmark in the headlines around the world. Demonstrations and violence in the Muslim world erupted.

The cartoon is drawn from a portrait of the prophet from a book about Islam by Alexander Ross published in 1683. Ross was behind the first translation of the Koran into English (1649). The poster reads ”Free speech is Danish, censorship isn’t – we stand by our Danish values”.

In an interview with Nyhedsavisen party leader Pia Kjaersgaard explains the reasoning behind the decision to put Mohammed’s face on election posters.

“”It’s part of our campaign for Danish values and we want to draw attention to those values. Among others they include equality between the sexes, solidarity and other things. This election add clearly has to do with the right to free speech.”

Why do you run this add after the violence during the cartoon crisis?

”Why shouldn’t we? Is it forbidden? On the contray, we have had a very comprehensive debate, that was very good because we spoke about the values we were in the process of losing. We have to stick to those values. We would never have spoken about these matters if it hadn’t been for the cartoon crisis. Self censorship is a bad thing.”

Don’t you think that you are undermining the diplomatic effort by the Prime minister to calm down the situation during the crisis?

”No, I don’t think so. It would be self censorship if we were thinking that we shouln’t do something like this.”

Did you consider the risk of provoking violence with this add?

”No, that hasn’t been part of our deliberations about publication of the cartoon.””

Klaus Kjoeller, expert on political communcation, comments on the add (Nyhedsavisen):

”It’s pretty smart of Danish People’s party. They have everything to win with this add. Experience tells us that the higher immigrants and culture clashes move up on the political agenda the more votes they get. They have to provoke and at the same time stay respectable negotiating partners to the Prime minister. With this add they achieve both.”