Sunday

7th Mar 2021

MEPs express solidarity with Denmark in cartoon row

European lawmakers have spoken out on the Danish-Muslim cartoon conflict and are expected to issue a resolution condemning the violent protests, supporting Denmark and backing freedom of expression.

MEPs on Wednesday (15 February) debated the EU’s response to the furore triggered by the publication of cartoons of Islam's prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Centre-right German MEP Hans-Gert Poettering said the protests in the Muslim world, which claimed three new victims in Pakistan on Wednesday, had not been spontaneous.

"They were organised by repressive regimes months after the publication of the cartoons," Mr Poettering said.

Brandishing a stack of newspaper cuttings from the Muslim world, Mr Poettering also said he had found "hundreds of cartoons making a mockery of our world", and underlined that "tolerance is no one-way-street, but has to go in both directions".

The MEP proposed to establish an EU-Muslim commission that would examine school textbooks in Europe and the Islamic world to see which words and values are used to describe the other side.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, who attended the debate, criticised violent acts by protestors and called for further dialogue to soothe tensions.

"The commission condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the violence perpetrated against our office in Gaza, and against the missions of the member states, in particular those of Denmark," president Barroso said.

"It is ironic that the aim of these missions is to bring real benefits to the lives of the people of their host countries," he added.

The dispute, sparked after the publication of the cartoons in Jyllands-Posten last September, has caused several deaths and millions of euro worth of trade losses as Danish goods have been boycotted and business contracts cancelled.

Press business is press business

MEPs were also strongly against a proposal by the commission to make media sign up to a voluntary "code of conduct" for reporting on Islam and other religions.

"The press has to draw its own code of conduct, we cannot do it for them," said German Green MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

Danish Liberal MEP Karin Riis-Jorgensen read out a Danish constitution article on freedom for the printed media stating, "censorship and other repressive measures shall never be again introduced".

A fellow Dane, MEP Jens-Peter Bonde from the Parliament’s Independence/Democracy group, said, "Islam is not above the Danish constitution".

Mr Bonde also urged colleagues in the plenary to take the matter of the boycott of Danish goods before the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Barroso hinted at the same measures announcing "a boycott of Danish goods is by definition a boycott of European goods".

Recuperating relations between the EU and the Muslim world

Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has been in Egypt on the second stop of what has been described as a "charm tour" of Islamic states.

After meeting Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Mr Solana expressed a desire to "recuperate relations between the EU and the Muslim world" and told reporters he had discussed with president Mubarak means to ensure that "religious symbols can be protected".

"Such steps could materialise through various mechanisms, maybe inside the new human rights commission created in the UN," Mr Solana said.

A resolution proposal has already been sent to the UN by officials at the Cairo University Al Azhar and is supported by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference.

The proposal asks the UN Security Council to oblige countries not to insult prophets and that legal action be taken against offenders.

Solana warns against EU-muslim cartoon rift

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said that the Danish cartoon row should not be allowed to cause a rift between Europeans and Muslims, while visiting the Middle East in a bid to soothe tension over the drawings.

Analysis

Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves

The debate over Fidesz had become an unbearable political burden on EPP - but it also represented a core dilemma for many centre-right, mainstream parties struggling to deal with their populist challengers.

EPP group moves forward to suspend Orban's Fidesz

MEPs are scheduled to vote on Wednesday to change the rules of procedure of the centre-right European People's Party parliamentary group to allow the suspension of a member party.

EUobserved

The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them

Ideas that are attacked are actually being promulgated. That has been the case for centuries, at least as far back as Thomas Aquinas. And that is certainly the case today with Facebook and Twitter.

Coronavirus

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. China and Russia abusing corona for geopolitics, Lithuania says
  2. Worries on Europe's infection surge, after six-week drop
  3. EU wants large firms to report on gender pay-gap or face fines
  4. EU Commission cannot hold Frontex to account
  5. Orbán leaves EPP group - the beginning of a long endgame
  6. 'Corporate due diligence'? - a reality check before EP votes
  7. Austrian ex-minister joins list of EU's pro-Kremlin lobbyists
  8. Internal Frontex probe to deliver final report this week

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us