Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Evil Queen of Denmark

By Kim Hundevadt & John Hansen, Jyllands-Posten, July 15, 2006
Translation to English: Zonka

[Queen Margrete II of Denmark]
From a single statement to errornous conclusions, exaggerations and conscious manipulation. Thus began the story that Queen Margrete in reality was behind the controversial Muhammed-Cartoons.

Queen Margrete was the big villain behind the Dane's evil campaign against Islam and muslims, which culminated with the 12 cartoons of the prophet in Jyllands-Posten. It was her that started the ball rolling, when she in the spring of 2005 encouraged her people to oppose islam and fight the muslim minorities in Denmark.

This fantastic revelation was printed in numerous media in the islamic world, when the Muhammed Cartoon Crisis reached its peak in February with flag burnings and torching of embassies.

Two examples from arabic newspapers was then referred in the Danish media, but documents in the Foreign Ministry, that the press and the public have now been granted access to, shows that the stories about the evil and islamophobic Queen of Denmark reached a far wider audience than first assumed. They were no doubt helpful in legitimizing the boycotts and demonstrations weren't only directed against the presumptuous newspaper, who had printed the cartoons, but against the nation as a whole, as it was now documented that the insults came from the highest place.

Important Error
It all began with a small, but important error in a translation: In the book "Margrete", which was published in April 2005, the Queen spoke with journalist and author Annelise Bistrup about the totalitarian side of Islam, which she found frightening.

»Der må vises et modspil, og man må en gang imellem løbe en risiko for at få en mindre flatterende etiket hæftet på sig. For der er visse ting, man ikke skal være tolerant over for,« said the Queen.
»We must challenge [the muslims], and sometimes one have to run the risk of getting a less flattering label attached to oneself. Because there are certain things, one should not be tolerant about.« [my translation -- ed]

The immediate reaction from the Danish muslims were actually positive:

»It is a correct signal from the Queen,« said imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen. »We must challenge each other in the religious area. There is no better way to reach a tolerance, than to meet each other.«

The story also caught the foreign telegram agencies interest. The British Reuters made a soft translation of the Queens remark which became: »A certain response must be shown.« The American news agency AP, sharpened it: »Resistance must sometimes be shown (to religious fanatics).«

However the French news agency AFP, really let it out: »We have to show our opposition to Islam,« as the Danish Queen was quoted. In Berlin a correspondent from the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph saw the telegram from AFP as a confirmation of the picture she already had of Denmark as a xenophobic country, so an extra layer was added:

»Queen Margrete II of Denmark have encouraged the Danes to show our resistance against Islam irregardless of the criticism that such an attitude might bring from abroad. Her comments undermines further the image of Denmark as a sheter for people who seeks a new life in Northern Europe. The Danish government have already been accused of nourishing xenophobia by introducing new rules and regulations, which have in effect closed the country for asylum seekers. But in undisguised political terms from an official biography, which was published yesterday, Queen Margrete states some comments that will most likely complicate her country's relations with muslims.«

Via the Pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, which have their base in London, this version reached the Islamic world, where it was quoted in some media, though without making a big splash. But more than nine months later when the cartoon controversy was nearing a dramatic peak, it was retrieved from the archives. The Saudi-Arabian newspaper Saudi Gazette put themselevs in the lead, with a large article on January 30, and using the article from The Daily Telegraph could tell that the cartoons were part of a larger pattern, which involved an islamophobic government and Queen.

Racist Queen
Now the story gained serious speed. The documents from the Foreign Ministry shows that Denmark's embassies in the following days found a number of versions in the Arabic press. They tried in some cases to correct the worst exaggerations, but the more times the story was told the worse it got and the worse the retoric.

Akhbar Al-youm in Egypt claimed February 1, that the queen officially was behind the cartoons, because she had called Islam a threat and encouraged the Danish government not to show tolerance towards Islam.

The next day Al Watan in Saudi-Arabia suggested that the Queen not only was islamophobic but also racist. She had among other things »encouraged her right-wing government to not show tolerance towards the muslim minority.«


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