Jyllands-Posten and its editor Flemming Rose rose to the occasion and proved that a small nation can muster the courage to stand up to bullying islamists and murderous jihadists. Later on Jyllands-Posten declined to publish Charlie Hebdo-caricatures and we forgave them. They had paid the price.
But in a new book, the very same Flemming Rose, tells a different story: The chief editor Jørn Mikkelsen and especially the CEO of the parent company JP/Politikens Hus, Jørgen Ejbøl, took a very different line. They decided to close the book on the caricature crises. No more. End of story. As if history could be rewritten.Flemming Rose was forbidden to comment or give interviews.
One of the most serious attempts on Jyllands-Posten was the plot hatched by David Coleman Headley, who was in contact with Lashkar e-Taiba, the group behind the murderous attack on Mumbai in 2008 that caused the death of 168 people. Headley had a contact in Chicago, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, and he was put on trial in 2009. Rose was called in as witness, but CEO Ejbøl not only forbade him to go, but threatened to sack him if he did. Threats of dismissals to serve the law?
This and a host of other stories of disgraceful behaviour are to be found in Rose’s book The Obsessed, that appeared in Danish today.
-This is a book about the nature of terror, says Rose to the paper Information
-It is about how fear eats the soul out, tears friendships apart and breaks up professional companionships.
Rose is well aware; the responsibility to protect their employees must have weighed on the conscience of the company’s leadership. He was in the middle of it. Jyllands-Posten’s main office at Viby outside Aarhus was transformed into a beleaguered bastion. Employees going through all the security details was constantly reminded of the threat.
At the same time the leadership started backtracking, as if it was possible to put distance between themselves and the cartoons. As if history could be undone.
Rose was presented with a set of demands:
This was an ultimatum. Rose did not wish to seem illoyal or harming his paper and colleagues who had endured so much.Rose complied and the gag order was prolonged indefinetly.
And it went further. CEO Ejbøl attempted to block the publication of Rose’s last book Ode to Freedom, that dealt with free speech in a multicultural society.
At the same time Jyllands-Posten publicly praised free speech and even instituted an honour prize in its name.
This hypocracy rankled Rose.
Rose was a sought after commentator on press freedom and freedom of speech. But the gag order prevented him from appearing in public. Even when Charlie Hebdo was massacred, Rose was told not to comment.
At the 10 year anniversary for the cartoon crises, CEO-Ejbøl for the first time expressed regret that the cartoons had been published. It didn’t quite register with public opinion.
The impression was that the Danes had weathered the storm, that Denmark had defended free speech.
Now they are being told a different story.
The people running the paper and its parent company wanted to story undone.
When Rose was prevented from appearing at conferences about the very story that are forever attached to his name, he decided that he had had enough.
He has told the whole story, about betrayal from the inside.
It pains Danes to hear that their paper of record was not what they made it out to be.
In a sense it is an act of blasphemy, but of a different kind, blaspheming the heroism of Kurt Westergaard and Rose, who both live with security guards 24/7.
The leadership treated them as if the threats was their own problem. Once you started disassociating yourself from people under threat the message is very clear.
Rose has an important message to the West. The islamists shake our identity to its core.
Our belief about ourselves are put to the test. We think of ourselves as defender of our fundamental principles: freedom of speech and press freedom, and behave as if we still do. But reality tells a different story, and the islamists smell our weekness.
Rose’s story will dishearten many who thought Jyllands-Posten brave.
The new editor has added injury to insult by proclaiming that there will be noe more Mohammed-cartoons in Jyllands-Posten. The paper has done its part and must move on. We were on the brink of becoming players, he declared.
Exactly. Jyllands-Posten was player and behaved with dignity and respect. The new editor, Nybroe, is proud to announce that they chicken out.
Others will pick up the mantel.
Rose and Westergaard set an example.
We will be put to the test. Again and again.