Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has stood strongly for the freedom of speech, refusing to curtail it in accord with Muslim cartoon rage demands. However, he is surprised that all this has happened, given Danish support for the Palestinians, which he says will continue. It doesn’t appear to occur to him that cartoon rage has been fueled by the same Islamic jihad ideology of which the Palestinians are the foremost contemporary exponent.
From Der Spiegel, with thanks to Erick Stakelbeck:
SPIEGEL: Your government launched an ambitious program two years ago to strengthen the dialogue and ties with Arab countries that has now failed. How are you going to revive this program?
Fogh Rasmussen: It is a paradox: we were one of the first countries to start such a partnership program and we are among the largest net contributors to, for example, the Palestinians. And now we have to watch as the Danish flag is burned and violent demonstrations against us are organized. The Arab initiative was supposed to accelerate economic and social reforms in the region so it’s now a shock to be so severely criticized. At the time, we felt we were at the forefront of modernization.
SPIEGEL: Now some are calling for a drastic reduction in economic support to, for example, the Palestinian Authority.
Fogh Rasmussen: We won’t change our policies. It’s now time to calm the waters, not cut funds. In the long-term, it would be in our own best interest to rebuild our good relationship with the Arab world.