14 January 2015


The senseless attack of Charlie Hebdo in Paris brings back the Mohammad crisis, and once again I am shocked that such a violent response can be triggered by a cartoon. In Denmark we are back to discussing: what is appropriate? Some argue that it is a senseless provocation, and that just because we can, we shouldn’t draw the prophet. But the point is, we can’t, which is the very reason we must. As long as a cartoonist in Denmark for ten years running, need police protection over a single drawing, we all have a problem.

To make matters worse, the politicians seize the opportunity to implement total surveillance, stripping us of our privacy. And, since this is election year, they further promise to tighten the screw on immigrants. It is all very counterproductive. Manipulators thrive on fear and division, it works for big corporations and politicians and it works for terrorists. Unfortunately for them, it comes with a backlash: I now feel increased compassion for the majority of Muslims, who simply want to coexist, and whose lives have been made more difficult by the extremists.

On the subject of satire, I recently found a Copenhagen magazine “Punch”, from 1887. Mocking men, women, children, politicians, poets and preachers. By the pen, animals take the place of people, and politicians take the shape of children. Some of the points are hard to decipher, the language and spelling have changed over time, and some puns are lost, as the story the tell are long since forgotten. Others are sadly relevant today (scene below from outside the restaurant in the Danish Parliament).

(For the Danes:) Det stakkels Dyr af Kulde og Nød * Forvist vil faa en ynkelig Død, *Saa man vil begravet det finde; *For det vil en morderlig Tid vist ta’e, * Forinden de Herrer kan faa snakket a’, *Som sidde og vrøvle derinde.

(Reads:) The poor animal cold and in need of help is left to die, one will find it buried, as it will surely take the babbling gentlemen a murderous time to come up with a solution. 

Others mock the church:

Don’t ask me what is going on here, something to do with alcohol. Keep in mind this was the year 1887, long before Hitler hijacked the 12.000 year old symbol of the sun. The original point of the cartoon is not clear, but today 127 years later it resurfaces with another: nothing and no one is above ridicule. Not then, not now, not ever.



  1. Hi Sandra, it is sad that politicians are using the Charlie Hebdo event to their own agenda, when Charlie Hebdo has nothing to do with said politicians. In France, of course it will probably get tough for immigrants, especially coming from Africa and Middle East, and curiously, it has brought back open antisemitism, which is never buried very deep here. We might look cool and good from the outside, but sometimes I'd prefer to not understand the subtlety of the French mind/politics.

    1. It is a difficult subject to discuss, people here scream at each other, and if you don't share their exact view, you are on the opposite side. Just taking the stand I did in this post, supporting the cartoonists right to draw anything and everything, rubs a lot of people the wrong way.

      Danes shy away from confrontation. It is like there is a pressure from a mass of political correctness that stops all communication in its tracks. And when we don't interact and try to understand each other, we end up right where we are. So stupid, really.

      Fear is the root of all the worlds problems. I refuse to give in.


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