Cartoon Crisis Exacerbates Danish Muslims' Integration Struggle

February 3, 2006

Source: The Guardian,,1701273,00.html

On February 3, 2006 The Guardian reported, "Every conversation quickly comes round to the subject, and opinion has become sharply polarised. The majority of Danes can't see what the fuss is about - a 'storm in a teacup', said one, while Danish Muslims are incensed by what they see as only the latest evidence of an increasingly Islamophobic country. Such sharp divisions over Islam have become a characteristic over the last 10 years in Denmark, profoundly shaking its sense of identity as tolerant and egalitarian. What the cartoon issue has exposed to global scrutiny is the passionate and often ugly debate here about what Denmark's 170,000 Muslims have to do to integrate. At the centre of the storm over the publication of the cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad is Ahmad Akkari. He has the role of explaining the Muslim position to an increasingly irritated Danish audience who are now seriously alarmed that this row is threatening the security of Danes in the Middle East and damaging economic interests. 'We are against censorship. We believe in free speech. Many of us fled our countries because of the lack of free speech,' insists Mr Akkari, a social worker. 'But what we told the editor of Jyllands-Posten [the paper which first printed the cartoons last September] is that they had picked the wrong test case for this freedom. They've picked on one of the most marginalised communities in this country, one that has many social problems and who have been struggling against Islamophobia here.'"