Do you remember “Everybody Draw the Pope Day”? You know — that recent occasion when websites all over the world displayed insulting caricatures of the pontiff? When YouTube and Facebook were blocked by the Vatican? When the faithful in Naples and Madrid took to the streets by the thousands to protest? When mobs of angry Catholics set fire to cars and vandalized Lutheran churches in Bavaria?
No? Don’t remember it? Me neither.
Maybe that’s because every day is “insult the pope day” in most Western countries. Who needs a special day for that?
Nobody has to fear a death fatwa from the College of Cardinals — Get out your pen and paper, boys, and tear into Benedict!
But that’s not exactly the way the Swedish socialists views the situation. They’re worried that there is too little criticism and public discussion about the Catholic Church, especially concerning the latest child abuse scandals. A Swedish Social-Democratic artist evidently felt that it was time to tell the truth about the dangers of Roman Catholicism, and decided to draw a sexually charged cartoon of the pope.
Those daring Swedes! They never hesitate to speak truth to power! Well, hardly ever — when the power in question speaks Arabic and offers large bounties for the heads of blasphemers, even the bravest of Swedish iconoclasts hesitates to whisper to it.
What makes the story below notable is the deep irony of its juxtaposition with last week’s conviction in Skåne of a man who displayed an image of Mohammed with a little girl. The caption of the poster correctly identified the ages of Mohammed and his child bride Aisha (53 and 9, respectively), relying on scripture accepted by Muslims everywhere which states exactly those facts.
For depicting a prominent religious figure as a pedophile, Carl Herslow faces a fine and jail time. The fact that his depiction represents the literal truth as Muslims understand it was no defense, and he was judged guilty of hets mot folkgrupp, incitement against an ethnic group.
Now comes Kjell Nilsson-Mäki, who has also depicted a prominent religious figure as a pedophile. In this case the religious leader is alive, and, as far as I know, has never been accused of molesting any children. Surely this constitutes some form of hets, even if the pope isn’t a folkgrupp. Time for public outrage, and a criminal charge against the artist, right?
Nope! Not in Sweden. In socialist circles, this is simply business as usual.
Here’s the story from The Local (my emphasis):
Catholics Upset by Young Socialists’ Erect Pope Pic
The Catholic Church in Sweden has expressed dismay at the publication by the youth wing of the Social Democrats (SSU) of a caricature of Pope Benedict XVI sporting an erection in the presence of a child.
The cartoon, created by Kjell Nilsson-Mäki and published in SSU’s bimonthly in-house organ Tvärdrag (Crosswind), shows a seated pope entreating a mother to hand over her young child while quoting from the Bible: “Let the children come to me.” A horrified mother and terrified child are clearly distressed by the large bulge beneath the papal robes.
“It’s a sharply acidic satirical image that reflects the systematic abuse of children at the hands of representatives of the Catholic Church. It’s not an attack on the pope and it’s not an attack on the Catholic faith,” Daniel Suhonen, editor of Tvärdrag (Crosswind), told The Local.
“In the cartoon the pope serves as a symbol for the Catholic Church in the same way that a caricaturist might use Mona Sahlin as a symbol for the Social Democrats or Barack Obama as a symbol for the United States,” he added.
But Catholic Church spokeswoman Maria Hasselgren was left unimpressed by the editor’s justifications.
“Unfortunately we’re accustomed to this kind of attack,” she told The Local.
“The editor of the magazine has spoken previously about how he wouldn’t have done the same thing in a Muslim context because Muslims are a vulnerable group in Swedish society. But I think this just displays how skewed his view is of the make-up of the Catholic Church in Sweden. Many Catholics here are immigrants, a lot are unemployed, and quite a few come from war zones such as Iraq. They’re certainly not the sort of powerful elite he implies.”
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Suhonen conceded that the vulnerable position of Muslims in society meant he would think twice about publishing a caricature in a similar vein, though he insisted he would not reject the possibility out of hand.
“Muslims are victims of oppression in Sweden to a much greater extent than Catholics, which makes this caricature less sensitive. But that’s not to say that I wouldn’t have published somebody like Lars Vilks, for example. I don’t know if I would or wouldn’t published because I haven’t been in that situation,” he said.
Hasselgren however said the cartoon was indicative of a level of disdain for the feelings of Catholics that was deep-rooted in Swedish society.
“It goes back to the sort of anti-Catholic sentiment that has existed here since the 16th century. There’s a very commonplace belief among Swedes that Catholicism is all about power and oppression and it’s a belief that remains very close to the surface.”
“But regardless of how insulting this caricature might be we’re not going to take any action. It wouldn’t get us anywhere.”
“Muslims are a vulnerable group in Swedish society… Muslims are victims of oppression in Sweden…”
What is this man smoking? Muslims are the most protected and pampered (and unproductive) group that Sweden has ever known. How can the cultural elites continue to retail whoppers like this one when the truth is so blindingly obvious to everybody?
By the way — as pointed out by KGS, the names of the editor (Suhonen) and the artist (Mäki) are both Finnish in origin. Is this part of some vast Finnish conspiracy? Does it represent a secret plot by Finland to infiltrate Sweden and smash the Catholic Church?
Only time will tell…
Hat tip: C. Cantoni.