"What we are facing is a matter of grave principle, though not all of the reactions can be taken quite seriously. What we are facing - what is shown on TV daily is - to pick a good one, a demand from the Arab Street that I must punish Carsten Juste [ED: Editor of Jyllands-Posten] - the details vary, either decapitation or the gallows," the Prime Minister says and continues:
"The cartoonists are to be extradited and tried under Sharia. The worst possible threats have been issued against Danes and our embassies have been torched. The list goes on. That’s what we are facing daily. Do 12 cartoons justify that kind of reaction? I think that is rather doubtful. But what I have seen the Danish media, some of them at least, concentrate on lately are matters of detail - the correct translation for a line in a letter, questions of whether a meeting should have been accepted or not and the matter of whether the Committee on Foreign Affairs ought to have been informed a bit sooner - what I am saying is that those are pinpricks, if proven to be a problem, in comparison to what we are facing. Those facing us have no doubts about religious matters and other matters as well. But we are focusing on matters of whether we handle things by the protocol - matters, I should add, which aren’t about protocol at all, but about politics and principles."
"I would like to stress that Freedom of Speech stands second to none for me of all our liberties. I see it as the guarantor of all our other liberties. And I see Freedom of Speech - the right to speak truth to power - as the basic locomotive of all Western societies. It’s what makes progress possible, that norms aren’t accepted on face value. That’s why it is so essential to guard it. All our liberties are answerable to the courts, of course. I too think that there are limits to what one may lawfully say. For instance, I don’t think it’s right if you have the liberty to encourage violence and terror. And apart from that, we also have a restriction on racist or blasphemous speech, and if you feel that you’ve been so spoken to, you may take your complaint to a court of law. So it is a liberty that is limited by the courts - but - here’s the point - the limits are enforced by the courts, not the government. That’s a lesson we have to be mindful of."
"I think that’s very clear. If it bleeds, it leads and flag burnings and the burning of effigies and arson and violent protests in general are easier to are depict than the insubstantial values of Freedom of Speech and Press. There is also a tendency, out of fear or weariness, to just feel ‘let’s move on already’ and that the response then is ‘okay, you win’ and to just give in. But that will do noone any good. Peaceful coexistence must be the goal and the means."
It’s a crisis between Denmark and the Moslem World