As the first newspaper to do so, the Politiken newspaper has reached a
settlement with descendants of the Prophet Mohammed in connection with the
affront its re-print of drawings of the Prophet Mohammed in 2008 may have
The settlement was reached between Politiken and eight organisations
representing 94,923 of the Prophet Mohammed’s descendants in a move
Politiken’s Editor-in-Chief Tøger Seidenfaden says shows that dialogue is
the way forward.
“The settlement looks ahead and expresses very sensible views. It may possibly
reduce the tensions that have shown themselves to be so resilient. It gives
us hope that relations between Denmark, and not least its media, and the
Muslim world can be improved,” Seidenfaden says, adding he does not believe
Politikens move is a freedom of speech sellout.
SEE JOINT PRESS RELEASE HERE
Under the settlement, Politiken has not given up its right to publish the
cartoons and does not apologise for having printed them, but rather for the
affront felt by some Muslims.
Lawyer Faisal Yamani, who entered into the settlement on behalf of the
descendants of the Prophet Mohammed says the settlement is a good one.
“This is a good settlement. It would be wrong to speak of a victory. Both
parties have reached the point where they understand the background to what
has happened. Politiken is courageous in apologizing, even though its was
not their intention to offend anyone,” Yamani says.
SEE POLITIKEN STATEMENT HERE
Danish politicians have condemned the move.
“It’s crazy. The media carries offensive material every day. That is what
freedom of speech is about,” says Social Democratic Leader Helle
Thorning-Schmidt. Socialist People’s Party Leader Villy Søvndal says that
“freedom of speech is not up for negotiation”.
The Danish People’s Party Leader Pia Kjærsgaard says she is ‘speechless’ in
finding words to express how absurd the situation is.
“It is deeply, deeply embarrassing that Tøger Seidenfaden has sold out of
Denmark’s and the West’s freedom of speech. I cannot distance myself enough
from this total sell-out to this doctrine,” Kjærsgaard says.
Neither the prime minister nor the foreign minister have had the opportunity
to comment on the issue, but the Liberal Political Spokesman Peter
Christensen says “it is strange that Politiken has the need to apologise. I
don’t see what there is to apologise for.”
The former Liberal Chairman and Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, however
“The paper loses nothing by apologizing. In a world full of conflict, where
too many paint themselves into a corner, it would be good to see more of
these types of attempt to reach a common understanding,” Ellemann Jensen
In August last year, a total of 11 Danish newspapers were approached by Yamani
with demands that the cartoons be removed from Internet pages, that media
apologized and that they promised not to re-print the cartoons in question,
or others, again.
Politiken is the only newspaper that has chosen to reach a settlement, at the
same time avoiding attempts by the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed to
sue the newspaper.
Berlingske Tidende, Jyllands-Posten and Kristeligt Dagblad are some of
the media that have received Yamani’s letter. Tha Saudi lawyer hopes that
these media will show interest in a settlement, but the three newspapers
have told Politiken that they have no interest in a settlement in which they
MorgenAvisen Jyllands-Posten’s Editor-in-Chief Jørn Mikkelsen says it is
regrettable that Politiken has folded, instead of continuing the case with
the other newspapers.
“Politiken has betrayed the battle for freedom of speech. They’ve given up and
bowed to threats. That is, of course, disgraceful,” Mikkelsen says.