Sweden sore at Prophet cartoons on web
Sweden's government expressed concern on Thursday that a small anti-immigrant party had put cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on its newspaper's website.Updated: Feb 11, 2006 10:59 IST
Sweden's government expressed concern on Thursday that a small anti-immigrant party had put cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on its newspaper's website, which could drag Sweden into protests by angry Muslims.
The far right-wing Swedish Democrats, who unlike a similar party in neighbouring Denmark where the cartoon row began are too small to have a seat in parliament, invited readers to send in their own cartoons for publishing with the Danish cartoons.
Local media reports said one new cartoon published showed the Prophet looking in a mirror which showed a black band over his eyes and the words: "Danish Mohammad self-censorship". The site also ran the Danish cartoons.
Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds said reactions had already been detected, putting Sweden at risk of attracting similar wrath as Denmark, where the cartoons first appeared last year in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Another Nordic neighbour, Norway, has also been embroiled after a paper there published them too.
"We are already seeing reactions in certain countries who have responded to the Swedish Democrats having these pictures on their website and this could naturally have grave consequences for Swedish people and Swedish interests," she said.
Sweden has so far been dragged into the row by association only. Its embassy in Damascus shared a building with the Danish mission that was torched by protesters on Saturday. Swedes in Muslim countries have had to take precautions like the Danes.
While a few Swedish papers did reproduce the cartoons after they first appeared last year, none have run the cartoons in recent weeks, sparing Sweden the worst protests.
"Our freedom of speech and expression also require some responsibility and Swedish media have so far showed that. I would expect it also from the Swedish Democrats," said the minister.
Sweden has a large Muslim community but is largely free of the anti-immigrant sentiment expressed by some Danish media and politicians. Like Norway and Denmark, it is a large aid donor in the West Asia, especially to the Palestinians.
First Published: Feb 11, 2006 04:06 IST