Teach Muhammad crisis in schools: proposal

The Conservatives and Danish People's Party have called on Danish schools to discuss the controversial publication of caricatures of prophet Muhammad.

Teach Muhammad crisis in schools: proposal
Mai Mercado of the Conservatives called for the Muhammad cartoons to be discussed in public schools. Photo: David Leth Williams/Scanpix
Schoolchildren should be taught about the crisis caused by controversial prophet Muhammad cartoons that angered many Muslims and was behind recent attacks in Europe, two conservative Danish opposition parties said Friday.
"The cartoon crisis, the Charlie Hebdo killings and the latest terrorist attack in Copenhagen on February 14 are such an important part of history they should have a permanent place on the school curriculum," Conservative People's Party spokeswoman Mai Mercado wrote in Jyllands-Posten.
Jyllands-Posten originally printed 12 satirical cartoons of Muhammad in 2005 that sparked protests in parts of the Islamic world. The paper received death threats.
In January, 12 people at the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which reprinted the Danish cartoons and later created some of their own, were shot dead in a jihadist attack on their Paris offices.
Mercado stressed however that teachers would be free to choose whether or not to show the cartoons themselves, as long as the topic was discussed.
"Politically we don't regulate the details of what students are taught, that's an old tradition to make sure that Danish schools are kept free from political interference," Mercado told AFP.
But she added that if teachers refused to show the cartoons she was "convinced the students would go home and run a Google search because students are curious."
The Conservatives were shown as having 5.3 percent of voter support in a poll this week, meaning it would be the second smallest party in parliament if elections were held today.
But the anti-immigrant Danish People's Party (DF), which was ranked third with 19.6 percent support by the same poll, went even further, saying that showing the cartoons should be mandatory in schools.
"If you live in Denmark you should also be able to tolerate seeing the drawings," party spokesman Alex Ahrendtsen told Berlingske.
The head of Denmark's teachers' union, Anders Bondo Christensen, said however that he believed it should be up to each teacher to decide whether and how to talk about the controversial drawings.
An appropriate way to discuss them could be to "perhaps invite some Muslim children's parents to explain why it provokes" them, he told news agency Ritzau.