Muhammad cartoons editor given press award

Jyllands-Posten's Flemming Rose, responsible for the 12 Muhammad cartoons that created global controversy, was given a coveted press award Thursday evening.

Muhammad cartoons editor given press award
Flemming Rose was awarded the annual Publicistpris Thursday night in Copenhagen. Photo: Sophia Juliane Lydolph/Scanpix
The newspaper editor who commissioned the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked international protests was late Thursday awarded a prize by Denmark's national press club.
Flemming Rose was the culture editor of daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005 when he published 12 satirical cartoons of the Islamic prophet, triggering deadly protests in some Muslim countries.
The cartoons were also published in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, where Islamist gunmen killed 12 people in January.
“For me, the debate I was drawn into almost 10 years ago by chance… is about tolerance and freedom,” Rose said in a speech at the awards ceremony.
The decision by the right-leaning Jyllands-Posten to publish the caricatures was controversial in Denmark and many journalists criticized Rose for doing it.
“I see this as a sign that the debate in Denmark has shifted, but naturally also that the reality has changed,” Rose told his own paper.
The Danish press club gave him its annual Publicistpris prize for “being a strong and central actor in the international debate about freedom of speech.”
Rose, 57, still lives under police protection because of death threats made against him. He currently serves as Jyllands-Posten's foreign editor.
Last month, Rose was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Norwegian MP who called the Dane “a consistent defender of freedom of expression, even at a personal cost”.
Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who whipped up outrage across the Muslim world with his 2007 sketch of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog, was last week given a prize by a Danish free speech group viewed by some as being Islamophobic.
Vilks last month escaped an attempt on his life when he attended a debate on free speech.
A Dane of Palestinian origin fired a series of shots outside the Copenhagen cultural centre that was hosting the event, killing a filmmaker.
The gunman later shot dead a Jewish man outside a synagogue before he was killed by police.

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‘We have free speech’: Danish PM avoids direct response to China over flag controversy

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen cited freedom of speech in Danish society as she reacted for the first time to demands by the Chinese Embassy in Denmark for an apology over a satirical drawing of the Asian country’s flag.

'We have free speech': Danish PM avoids direct response to China over flag controversy
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at a conference in Copenhagen on Tuesday. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

China’s representation in Denmark has demanded that newspaper Jyllands-Posten apologize for a cartoon depicting each of the five yellow stars of the Chinese flag as a coronavirus. The drawing was published in Monday's edition of the newspaper.

READ ALSO: China demands apology over Danish newspaper's cartoon flag 'insult'

Frederiksen commented briefly on the matter on Tuesday prior to a Social Democratic parliamentary party meeting, Jyllands-Posten reports.

“I have nothing else to say about it other than that we have a very, very strong tradition in Denmark, not only for free speech, but also for satirical drawings, and that will continue in the future as well. It is a well-known Danish position, and we won’t change that,” she said.

The PM did not respond directly to the Chinese calls for an apology.

“I just want to say from Denmark and the Danish government's side, all we have to say is that we have freedom of expression in Denmark — also to draw,” Frederiksen said.

There was no further need to explain Denmark’s position to China, she also said.

“I don't think anyone is uncertain about how Denmark works in terms of free speech,” the PM said.

She said her comments could be considered an “official statement on my part” over Denmark’s position on free speech.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofod expressed similar sentiments in comments given to the same newspaper.

Kofod told Jyllands-Posten he did not, in principle, comment on satire drawings, including the Chinese flag cartoon.

“We have freedom of speech and assembly in Denmark, and it is not for me to debate satirical drawings or comment on this. It is known that we have (free speech), and that is also clear to the Chinese,” Kofod said prior to a meeting in Brussels.