3 Swedish Newspapers defend free speech....well sort of....
They could have gone further....
Three leading Swedish newspapers and the national broadcaster carried a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body after an alleged plot to murder the artist who drew it was unveiled in the Republic of Ireland.
The threat to Lars Vilks was a threat against all Swedes, the country’s biggest daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, proclaimed, adding that the new year axe attack on a Danish cartoonist for drawing the Prophet meant that Scandinavian values of openness were being assaulted.
The drawing by Mr Vilks was published yesterday in the Stockholm-based Dagens Nyheter and Expressen newspapers and the Malmö daily Sydsvenska Dagbladet, in defence of one of the cornerstones of Sweden’s constitution. This states that Swedes have the right to freedom of speech and cannot be restrained from the lawful expression of their views.
The newspapers stopped short, however, of running the cartoon on their websites because of their wider accessibility around the world. Islam forbids representations being made of the Prophet.
“In September 2007, al-Qaeda leaders set a price on Swedish artist Lars Vilks’s head,” said Dagens Nyheter in an editorial comment. His “alleged crime” was to draw a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad as a “roundabout dog”; a type of street installation popular in Sweden where sculptures are often placed in the middle of roundabouts. “The threats are attacks on one of the most fundamental rights — the freedom of speech — and should be viewed as a wider treat against an open and free society,” the editorial stated.
Gunilla Herlitz, the Dagens Nyheter editor-in-chief, defended the reprinting of the cartoon as a legitimate part of the story of the day. “I believe that, in this case, the cartoon is a part of the news and therefore we would like to show the readers what this is all about. But the cartoon is published in a context and is not the leading picture on the page.”