Another Middle Eastern news agency reports that Sweden has apologized for the Modoggies. This time it’s SANA, the Syrian news service:
Sweden Apologizes for Newspapers Offending Muslims
Swedish Ambassador in Damascus Catharina Mempel Kipp conveyed on Wednesday her country’s apology for drawings printed recently in Swedish newspapers that depict the Prophet Mohammad in an offensive manner. Kipp expressed her respect to Islam and Muslims in general and the Syrian people in particular.
A statement by the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt affirms that Sweden is a country where people of different beliefs live together, and that the basis of Swedish society is respect, understanding and rejection of offensive action, violence and aggression.
Reinfeldt expressed his regret of the incident which has offended and upset Muslims, calling against instigating or offending other religion.
The statement was delivered by the Swedish Embassy to Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, who stated that a third party is attempting to harm the relations between Sweden and Arab and Islamic countries.
Hassoun pointed out that the Swedish Prime Minister’s stance and apology will have a good impact on Muslims and that it will contribute to ending instigation. He also called intellectuals, journalists and politicians to carry a message that serves humanity and civilizations and to avoid sowing discord between nations and peoples.
I’ll give you three guesses as to who that “third party” might be.
This looks a lot like the earlier claim by Pakistan that the Swedes had apologized, a claim that turned out to be disinformation, a little bit of anticipatory taqiyya in an attempt to expedite a real apology.
The SANA article was the only information on this story that I could find, so I wrote our Danish correspondent Kepiblanc and asked him if he could find anything else. He sent his translation of an excerpt from Nerikes Allehanda (the newspaper that first published a Modoggie):
“None of our ambassadors has said anything like that. Some of them even conveyed Fredrik Reinfeldt’s official statement,” says press- and information-secretary Cecilia Julin of Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “That statement isn’t an apology. Actually, the PM emphasizes that ‘politics must not be allowed to interfere with freedom of the press and expression.’“
Also, from Sweden’s biggest MSM outlet:
PM Fredrik Reinfeldt has invited a group of ambassadors from Arab and Muslim countries to a meeting about the drawings of Mohammed as a roundabout dog.
Egypt’s ambassador, Samah Mohamed Sotouhi, tells TT that the ambassadors from Muslim countries to Sweden in unison will hand over a list with precautions to the Swedish government, demanding measures for a permanent solution with regard to the Mohammed drawings.
“We want action, not kind words.”
The Muslim leaders have demanded a meeting with the prime minister, and they are getting one. This is where Mr. Reinfeldt has departed from the line taken by his Danish counterpart, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who refused categorically to meet with Muslim leaders about the Motoons.
Here’s what Kepiblanc has to say:
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In my humble opinion, Reinfeldt has already caved.
When the thugs demanded a meeting with Rasmussen , his answer was “Freedom of the press and free speech is not up for discussion, so there’s no reason for a meeting.” Which effectively means : F**k You.
By agreeing to meet the thugs, Reinfeldt obviously says, “OK — let’s talk about our constitution and our laws and how we can gag the Swedish people.” Exactly what they demand.
The Local has more information about tomorrow’s meeting [Note: since I originally compiled this post, the Local link I just cited has ceased to work]:
“The meeting forms part of our dialogue with these countries,” the prime minister’s press secretary Oscar Hållén told news agency TT.
The government has indicated that the meeting will not be open to journalists.
“We want to emphasize the fact that Muslims and Christians live side by side in Sweden in a spirit of mutual respect,” said Hållén.
He also added that the government intends to reinforce its defence of freedom of expression. [emphasis added]
It looks like they’re going to make some serious sausages at that meeting, and they’re keeping the press out so that nobody will see exactly how those sausages are made.
A later article from The Local has additional information; it seems that the Muslim leaders are urging the prime minister to introduce Sharia:
Muslim ambassadors: ‘Sweden needs to change its laws’
Ambassadors from Muslim countries have indicated that they intend to present the Swedish prime minister with a list of demands when they meet for talks on Friday.
Fredrik Reinfeldt invited the ambassadors from 20 Muslim countries to government offices on Friday following a wave of protests from Muslim countries after the publication of a caricature of Muhammad in local newspaper Nerikes Allehanda.
Reinfeldt’s press secretary Oscar Hållén was unable to say which countries had confirmed their attendance.
Egyptian ambassador Mohamed Sotouhi told news agency TT that he and a group of fellow ambassadors had agreed on a list of measures Sweden needed to take if it was to secure a long-term solution to the Muhammad cartoon controversy.
According to Sotouhi, “comprehensive measures” were required if Sweden was to prevent some “amateur artist” from reawakening tensions every other month.
“We want to see action, not just nice words. We have to push for a change in the law,” he said.
“Muslims need legal protection against the desecration of the Prophet Muhammad, maybe something similar to the protection enjoyed by Jews and homosexuals.”
While praising the “very constructive steps” taken by Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Egyptian ambassador said that Sweden had much work left to do.
“In the long term the school curriculum has to convince pupils that if they want to express their opinion they should do so in such a way that it doesn’t cause offence or hurt. This should also be part of journalism training,” said Sotouhi.
“A permanent parliamentary committee also needs to be established to tackle islamophobia,” he added.
The ambassador urged Reinfeldt to strive towards “reaching a balance between freedom of speech and taking responsibility to avoid offending Muslims or other religious groups in this society”.
And dig this little tidbit:
Algeria’s ambassador to Sweden, Merzak Bedjaoui, said the meeting “was an excellent initiative taken in a spirit of appeasement.”
Whoo-ee! I wonder who’s doing the translating here…
And, once again:
Hållén further added that the government intended to reiterate its earlier defence of Swedish laws surrounding freedom of expression.
They’re going to have to work really hard to square that particular circle.
So the big question remains: Has Sweden really bent over and grasped its ankles yet? Or is it just tentatively fingering its diplomatic trouser buttons?
A reader who lives in Sweden sends the following note:
Just now I saw one of the Modogs on TV. They actually showed a Modoggie on TV. Wonders never cease!
This morning they had Lars Vilks, an art critic, and a host. General stuff on art and free speech, everything that has been said before. Lars did mention that he had a few death threats, but most Muslims were willing to discuss the issue reasonably.
Now there is a quick debate segment on “UR”, UtbildningsRadion, (Educational Radio).
Only now has Sweden’s media been shamed into covering the issue.
What’s notable is that smaller newspapers like Nerikes Allehanda are willing to stick their necks out and stand firm on this issue. The higher up in media and governmental food chain you go, the more closely the position resembles the Multicultural party line.
So, for right now, it’s still a modified, limited Alla ska med.
For previous posts on Lars Vilks and the Roundabout Dogs, see the Modoggie Archives.