Friday, February 15, 2008

Cartoon Crisis version 2.0?

A couple of months ago I was about to finish writing a book about the Cartoon Crisis in 2006. I thought that now this crisis must have passed over into history. I chose to calle the book "From Cartoon Crisis to Headscarf Row" because I considered these two conflicts to be closely connected.

The most obvious link between the two was Asmaa Abdol-Hamid. She was the spokesperson for the eleven Muslim organisations that responded to Prophet-cartoons by filing a lawsuit against Jyllands-Posten. She headed the protest against the Danish cartoons, and she became the target for the protests by many Danes against her headscarf. (She tried to be elected to Parliament, and announced that in case she was elected she would wear the veil in Parliament).

The cartoons were perceived as a provocation by many Muslims in Denmark as well as abroad: Muslims were challenged to accept the cartoons on the basis of the constitutional freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Asmaa’s headscarf (and her refusal to shake hands with males) was perceived as a provocation by many non-Muslims in Denmark: Danes were challenged on the basis the same freedom of expression and the freedom of religion to accept new forms of dress and behaviour.

While writing the book, however, I also feared that the Cartoon Crisis (and the Headscarf Row) was not an isolated historical event but that it was par tof the long and difficult process which Denmark goes through theses years, the transition form being a mono- to becoming a multi-society, also in terms of religion. Therefore, I gave the book the subtitle "Two Conflicts Changing Multi-religious Denmark".

Even though the events are very differenct in character and significance, still there the 9-11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in US in 2001 and the Cartoon Crisis in Denmark in 2006 have this in common that they were epoch-making. 9-11 meant that terror was brought to the heart of the United States and that the last remnants of a feeling of protection from the problems of the rest of the world by the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans evaporated. The Cartoon Crisis in a similar way destroyed the feeling of beeing a cosy and peaceful little corner of the world far away from the big conflicts of the world , when Denmark became the center of a global conflict, which cost many lives in other parts of the world.

My book "From Cartoon Crisis to Headscarf Row" is being published these days, but I had not imagined that it would be available for sale exactly in the midst of a situation where we may be witnessing the beginning of a "Cartoon Crisis version 2.0". My hope is that this new version will be withdrawn as soon as possible. It is more than sufficient with the "Cartoon Crisis version 1.0".

If you want to read more about my book, "From Cartoon Crisis to Headscarf Row", click here.

Christiansfeld, Denmark, Friday, February 15, 2008
Mogens S. Mogensen