‘Free Society vs. Fear Society’

“We have lived with the fear of a terrorist attack for nine years, and yes, that is the explanation why we do not reprint the cartoons, whether it be our own or ‘Charlie Hebdo’s. We are also aware that we therefore bow to violence and intimidation.”


“In the summer of 2005, the Danish artist Kåre Bluitgen, when he met a journalist from the ‘Ritzaus Bureau’ news agency, said he was unable to find anyone willing to illustrate his book on Mohammed, the prophet of Islam. Three illustrators he contacted, Bluitgen said, were too scared. A few months later, Bluitgen reported that he had found someone willing to illustrate his book, but only on the condition of anonymity.

“Like most Danish newspapers, ‘Jyllands-Posten’ decided to publish an article about Bluitgen’s case. To test the state of freedom of expression, Flemming Rose, ‘Jyllands-Posten’s cultural editor at the time, called twelve cartoonists and offered them $160 each to draw a caricature of Mohammed. What then happened is a well-known, chilling story.

In the wave of Islamist violence against the cartoons, at least two hundred people were killed. Danish products vanished from shelves in Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Oman, the UAE and Lebanon. Masked gunmen stormed the offices of the ‘European Union’ in Gaza and warned Danes and Norwegians to leave within 48 hours. In the Libyan city of Benghazi, protesters set fire to the Italian consulate. Political Islam understood what was being achieved and raised the stakes; the West did not.


NOT one of the cartoons in the story…

“An Islamic ‘fatwa’ also forever changed Flemming Rose’s life. In an Islamic caricature, his head was put on a pike. The ‘Taliban’ offered a bounty to anyone who would kill him. Rose’s office at the newspaper was repeatedly evacuated for bomb threats. And Rose’s name and face entered ISIS’s blacklist, along with that of the murdered editor of ‘Charlie Hebdo’, Stéphane Charbonnier.

“Less known is the “white fatwa” that the journalistic class imposed on Rose. This brave Danish journalist reveals it in a recently published book, “De Besatte” (“The Obsessed”).

“It is the story of how fear devours souls, friendships and the professional community,” says Rose.

“The book reveals how his own newspaper forced Rose to surrender.

“The drama and the tragedy is that the only ones to win are the jihadists,” Flemming Rose told the Danish newspaper ‘Weekendavisen’.

“The CEO of ‘Jyllands-Posten’, Jørgen Ejbøl, summoned Rose to his office, and asked,

“You have grandchildren, do not you think about them?”

“The company that publishes his newspaper, ‘JP/Politikens Hus’, said:

“It’s not about Rose, but the safety of two thousand employees.”

“Jorn Mikkelsen, Rose’s former director, and the newspaper’s business heads, obliged him to sign a nine-point diktat, in which the Danish journalist accepted, among other demands, “not participating in radio and television programs”, “not attending conferences”, “not commenting on religious issues”, “not writing about the ‘Organization of the Islamic Conference’” and “not commenting on the cartoons”.

“Rose signed this letter of surrender during the harshest time for the newspaper, when, in 2010-2011, there were countless attempts on his life by terrorists, and also attempts on the life of Kurt Westergaard, illustrator of a cartoon (Mohammed with a bomb in his turban) that was burned in public squares across the Arab world. Westergaard was then placed on “indefinite leave” by ‘Jyllands-Posten’ “for security reasons”.


“In his book, Rose also reveals that two articles were censored by his newspaper, along with an outburst from the CEO of the company, Lars Munch:

“You have to stop, you’re obsessed, on the fourth floor there are people who ask ‘can’t he stop?'”.

“Rose then drew more wrath from his managers when he agreed to participate in a conference with the equally-targeted Dutch parliamentarian, Geert Wilders, who at this moment is on trial in the Netherlands for “hate speech”. Rose writes:

He starts yelling at me, “Why the f*ck did you say yes to appear on stage with this terrorist target, are you stupid? Do you have a secret death wish? You have grandchildren now. Are you completely out of your mind? It’s okay if you want to die yourself, but why are you taking the company though all this?”

“‘Jyllands-Posten’ also pressured Rose when he decided to write a book about the cartoons, “Hymne til Friheden” (“Hymn to Freedom”). His editor told him that the newspaper would “curb the harmful effects” of the book by keeping its publication as low-key as possible. Rose was then threatened with dismissal if he did not cancel two debates for the tenth anniversary of the Mohammed cartoons (Rose, in fact, did not show up that day at a conference in Copenhagen).

“After the 2015 massacre at ‘Charlie Hebdo’, Rose, no longer willing to abide by the “diktat” he was ordered to sign, resigned as the head of the foreign desk of  ‘Jyllands-Posten’, and now works in the U.S. for the ‘Cato Institute’ think-tank. The former editor of ‘Jyllands-Posten’, Carsten Juste, who was also blacklisted by ‘ISIS’, confirmed Rose’s allegations.

“Rose writes in the conclusion of his book:

“I’m not obsessed with anything. The fanatics are those who want to attack us, and the possessed are my former bosses at ‘Jyllands-Posten’.”

“Rose’s revelations confirm another familiar story: ‘Jyllands-Posten’s surrender to fear. Since 2006, each time its editors and publishers were asked if they still would have published the drawings of Mohammed, the answer has always been “no”. This response means that the editors had effectively tasked Rose with writing the newspaper for fanatics and terrorists thousands of kilometers away. Even after the January 7, 2015 massacre at the weekly ‘Charlie Hebdo’ in Paris, targeted precisely because it had republished the Danish cartoons, ‘Jyllands-Posten’ announced that, out of fear, it would not republish the cartoons:

“We have lived with the fear of a terrorist attack for nine years, and yes, that is the explanation why we do not reprint the cartoons, whether it be our own or ‘Charlie Hebdo’s. We are also aware that we therefore bow to violence and intimidation.”

“A Danish comedian, Anders Matthesen, said that the newspaper and the cartoons were to blame for the Islamist violence — the same official position as the entire European political and journalistic mainstream.

A year ago, for the 10th anniversary of the affair, instead of the cartoons, ‘Jyllands-Posten’ came out with twelve white spaces. These white spaces represent what Rose, in his previous book, called “Tavshedens tiranni” (“The Tyranny of Silence”). Naser Khader, a liberal Muslim of Syrian origin who lives in Denmark, wrote:

“I do not blame them that they care about the safety of employees. I have bodyguards 24 hours a day. However, I believe that we must stand firm. If Flemming shuts his mouth, democracy will be lost.”


“Is democracy lost? The headquarters of ‘Jyllands-Posten’ today has a barbed-wire fence two meters high and one kilometer long, a door with a double lock (as in banks), and employees can only enter one at a time by typing in a personal code (a measure that did not protect ‘Charlie Hebdo’). Meanwhile, the former editor, Carsten Juste, has withdrawn from journalism; Kurt Westergaard lives in hiding in a fortress, and Flemming Rose, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, fled to the United States.

“Much, certainly, looks lost.

“We are not living in a ‘free society’ anymore, but in a ‘fear society’,” Rose has said.”

–‘Self-Censorship: Free Society vs. Fear Society’,
Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, December 2, 2016
(Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for ‘Il Foglio’, is an Italian journalist and author.)




The controversial cartoons

“A local newspaper in Jutland (ever heard of Jutland before?), a rural area of Denmark (one of Europe’s smallest nations, with a language spoken by barely 5 million people) published twelve drawings. Some were simple portraits of a man with Arab features, some poked fun at the newspaper itself, and barely a handful were caricatures of Muhammad, the prophet of the Muslims – hardly offensive by Western standards.

“It is true that the Western press has been grossly offensive to religious people in the past, mocking their beliefs and morals, hurting their feelings, insulting them. From the ‘BBC’ to ‘CNN’, from ‘The Guardian’ to ‘The New York Times’, the dominant media have never been squeamish about giving offense.

“Anyone who sees the twelve Danish pictures wonders what all the fuss is about. However, most people do not get to see them, as they have been censored in the major information sources, from the BBC to CNN, from The Guardian to The New York Times. The drawings were so inoffensive that when they were originally published last September, there was no outcry, not even in Egypt where they were republished in October.

“Only when fanatical imams travelled from Denmark to Arabia, with suitcases containing three grossly offensive bogus cartoons which they had added to the original twelve – and only when these imams told people that these were the offensive Danish cartoons, so offensive that no-one was allowed to see them – only then, Islamic mobs went on a rampage. Four months after the original drawings had been published in Jutland.

“Guess who immediately appeared on the scene, adding fuel to the fire by explicitly confirming that the three bogus cartoons were the original ones? The BBC! And guess who is still refusing to show the world the twelve, hardly offensive original drawings? The BBC!

“Meanwhile, courageous local journalists and publishers who had reprinted the cartoons to show that they were hardly offensive are lingering in jail in countries such as Jordania and Yemen…”

–‘The Betrayal of Denmark (and of Us All)’,
Paul Belien, The Brussels Journal, February 13, 2006



“Early this morning, 40,000 copies of the ‘Western Standard’ magazine, of which I am publisher, rolled off the presses…

“…In the middle of the magazine, we have a two-page discussion about the Danish cartoons depicting the Muslim ‘Prophet’ Muhammad. These are the cartoons that caused riots overseas.

In our magazine’s news judgment, you can’t properly report that story without showing the cartoons. So, we’re publishing eight of the cartoons. As far as I am aware, that makes the Western Standard the first large-circulation publication in the country to reprint them.

“As our readers will see, most of the cartoons are innocuous; several nothing more than stylized portraits, including quite a handsome one.

“It seems absurd that such a banal journalistic act would be taboo. We’re not abnormal for printing the cartoons. Canada’s other publications and TV stations are the abnormal ones for avoiding the subject at the centre of the largest story of the week


“…I believe Canadian publishers and TV producers have not been fully candid about the choice they’ve all made. Not a single publisher, editor or reporter has admitted…what we all know is true, at least a little bit: That these riots are scary.

“They’re scarier than any letter-writing campaign or boycott or protest rally that has occurred in recent memory.

“Journalists and other artists have been killed by Muslim radicals. Several of the Danish cartoonists are in hiding, for fear of assassination. This is really happening.

“In fact, the official excuse has been that TV producers, publishers and editors don’t want to offend religious sensibilities. But this isn’t credible. Not a day goes by when the mainstream media doesn’t offend the religious sensibilities of religious Christians, Jews or others. The media doesn’t care about religious sensibilities — it is militantly secular. But it has made an exception for the sensibilities of one religion that is quick to riot and behead its critics.

“The most laughable excuse — especially from the liberal, secular media like the ‘CBC’ or ‘CNN’ — is that they “respect” Islam too much. Really? They respect a religion opposed to feminism, gay rights and abortion?

The liberal media doesn’t respect radical Islam. It is afraid of radical Islam.

“I’m afraid, too. A little bit, at least. But courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s not letting fear trump everything else — like character, or duty, or our own beliefs.

“The Western Standard has no explaining to do. We’re a news magazine, and these cartoons are news. The publishers, editors and TV producers who are behaving as if they live under sharia law, not the Charter of Rights, have explaining to do — to their readers and viewers.”

–‘Media runs scared’,
Ezra Levant, Calgary Sun, February 13, 2006



“The University of Toronto’s student newspaper, the ‘Strand’, has published a cartoon of a gay Jesus kissing Muhammed. The cartoon was published as part of a debate over whether to show images of Muhammed from Danish papers. The image shows the face of Jesus, but does not show the face of Muhammed. Jesus is also seen disrobing Muhammed.

“The same newspaper has refused to publish the Muhammed cartoons…

“Nick Ragaz, managing editor for the ‘Strand’, says the newspaper is not pulling the controversial issues off campus and the cartoon will also remain on its website.

“In a message online, he says the cartoon was intended to provoke debate, dialogue, and thought, and should not be understood to promote violence or hate.

“He says the newspaper’s staff thought long and hard about publishing the cartoon and since printing it hasn’t broken any laws or university policies, they’re not backing down.

“He says he regrets that some people feel upset or marginalized by the cartoon but that wasn’t the intention.

“The ‘University of Toronto’ student union says it has received several complaints about the cartoon, which was published Wednesday alongside an editorial addressing the debate on whether to publish controversial Danish cartoons that have sparked protest around the world…”

–‘Kissing cartoon defended’,
CP / Ottawa Sun, February 19, 2006




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