Muhammad cartoon editor gets Norway prize

Jyllands-Posten editor Flemming Rose, who was behind the controversial 2005 publication of Prophet Muhammad cartoons, is being honoured by a Norwegian free speech group.

Muhammad cartoon editor gets Norway prize
Flemming Rose. Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Scanpix
Danish newspaper editor Flemming Rose will receive 100,000 Norwegian kroner (roughly 80,000 Danish kroner) from the free speech group Fritt Ord for his “steadfast defence of free speech” over the past decade. 
Fritt Ord wrote in a press release Monday that Rose has consistently pushed forward the notion of free speech as a basic human right. 
“On September 30, 2005 Jyllands-Posten published a page with 12 different cartoons, each of them caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. That was the start of one of the most important debates over freedom of expression in modern times. Ten years later, it is still not finished,” the group wrote. 
Rose currently serves as Jyllands-Posten’s foreign editor but was the culture editor who commissioned the Muhammad cartoons. He was very vocal in the aftermath of January’s Charlie Hebdo attacks in January and has been a frequent presence in the international media speaking about threats against the freedom of speech
Both Jyllands-Posten and Rose personally have been under police protection since the Muhammad cartoons were published. 
Rose will be honoured by Fritt Ord along with Norwegian journalist Vebjørn Selbekk, who as the editor-in-chief of Magazinet republished the Muhammad caricatures in 2006. Earlier this year, he released the book ‘Fyktens makt’ (The Power of Fear) about the publication’s effects on Norway. 
Rose too is due to release a book looking back on the decade that followed the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. That book,' Hymne til friheden' (Hymns to Freedom), comes out in September. Rose also wrote the book ‘The Tyranny of Silence’, which detailed his reasoning for publishing the cartoons. 
Rose and Selbekk will receive their prize sometime in September, Fritt Ord said. 
Rose was also unsuccessfully nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year by a Norwegian MP. The Danish press club awarded him its annual Publicistpris for “being a strong and central actor in the international debate about freedom of speech.”


‘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.