Skip to comments.Nordics find generosity no shield from Muslim wrath
Posted on 02/06/2006 12:25:32 PM PST by SmithL
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - For years, Scandinavian countries have been among the most generous with aid to the Muslim world, but that generosity has stood for little in the scandal over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
In the past week, Scandinavian embassies have been set ablaze in Syria and Lebanon and bans have been put on Danish exports, creating a row that threatens to unravel the substantial goodwill Scandinavia had in the Middle East.
Despite the vast contributions Nordic countries have made, analysts suspect Denmark's heavy-handed approach to immigrants may be one reason behind the Muslim backlash. And they worry that it could take a long time for reputations to recover.
That's bad for Scandinavia, but it may also be bad for aid recipients such as the Palestinians, just as they face a crunch over funding following militant group Hamas's election victory.
"The general perception in the Arab world of the Nordic countries as tolerant and generous has suffered a huge blow," said Ole Woehlers Olsen, a senior advisor at the Danish Institute for International Studies.
The region's reputation for generosity was not undeserved.
Norway brokered the Oslo accord between Israel and the Palestinians in the early 1990s; Norway and Sweden are the top single donors of aid to the Palestinians after the United States; and Denmark launched an "Arab initiative" in 2003 to promote understanding. Its presidency of the European Union helped set up the "roadmap" for Middle East peace.
"That is why is has hurt so much to see the pictures of flags being burned and all the threats against the people who are there to help the Palestinian people," said Fathie El-Abed of the Danish-Palestinian Friendship Association.
Denmark, where the cartoons were first published, has been the focus of anger.
Jyllands-Posten, a conservative paper in a country whose government won power partly by making it tougher for immigrants to get in, commissioned the cartoons for a debate on whether it was acceptable to censor the media to avoid offending Muslims, thereby giving Muslims special treatment.
Later published in a small Christian paper in Norway and now in papers all over Europe and beyond, the cartoons snowballed from a local debate about censorship to a global row about free speech and relations between the West and the Muslim world.
"It was not a deliberate provocation by Jyllands-Posten. It was thoughtlessness based on ignorance about the fact that it would hurt a lot of people," said Olsen.
But the suspicion that it was an act of provocation is hard to dispel because of the political context in Denmark, where the center-right government has flexed its muscles on immigration, even restricting the entry of foreigners married to Danes.
Prime Anders Fogh Ramsussen came to power in 2001 on a campaign to curb the immigrant numbers, egged on by his openly anti-immigrant allies, the Danish People's Party, which wants to expel some imams accused of whipping up anti-Danish sentiment.
Aid agencies and experts say that if the situation continues to deteriorate, it is the Palestinians who stand to lose most if ties with Scandinavia are damaged beyond repair.
The crisis comes just as the Palestinians face a funding crisis after Hamas, a militant Islamic group, won elections. Norway has been a particularly strong Palestinian donor.
"This is an important role and particularly now because it is such a big issue whether Hamas will get enough funding," said Henrik Thune at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.
Sweden has tried to show solidarity with Denmark while distancing itself from the cartoon row itself and stressing the role its foreign aid agency SIDA plays in the Middle East.
"We support development in the Palestinian territories where we are helping with financial support for healthcare, education and infrastructure," said SIDA spokesman Jon Hedenstrom. "That is well known in many parts of the Middle East."
More proof of the fact that you can't buy them off either...
Repaying good with evil.
On the bright side, I think this is an eye-opening experience for the EU, and we may soon see them begin to sympathize with the Israelis.
Santayana was right.
We are at war with Islam and the sooner the west figures that out the sooner we can have the remaining garbage in the world removed.
You can't buy Arab loyalty. You can only rent it.
That is commonly called casting one's pearls before the swine.
"The general perception in the Western world of the Muslim people as peaceful and grateful has suffered a huge blow," said just about anybody on the planet who isn't a self-deluded Muslim.
Who would have thought WWIII would break out over a couple o f freakin' cartoons from Denmark. "The war of the cartoons"..
Elmer Fudd: "oh, you wascally wahib!"
"You knew I was a snake when you took me in!" as the old song goes.
Hilarious. The radical Islamists are that, Islamic Supremacists. The fact they rely on infidel handouts and see the world pass them by enrages them.
And they're nuts. Lashing back at the Danes some threaten jokes about the Holocaust which had nothing to do with the Danes. Good humor would portray Danes as crude Vikings.
From one of the best books I have ever read: All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten ..
You cannot buy your friends.
[It was thoughtlessness based on ignorance about the fact that it would hurt a lot of people," said Olsen.]
It didn't "hurt" anyone...unless you can call irritating a psychotic mind "hurting".
It's official, Islam is shrink wrapped in lunacy.
No bias here. Nope, not a bit.
I think those Muslims should go back to their goats and sand boxes and get out ot the north!
If not with the Israelis, then perhaps the US.
Notice how the whole story is focused on how the terrorists feelings are hurt?
Hey writer, how about asking how the Nordic countries feelings have been hurt by the terrorists actions. After all the Nordic countries have done for the terrorists they still get treated like the US and the Jews.
Hey, no good deed just unpunished.
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