November 25, 2010
TV station SBS has cancelled a new sitcom which portrays three incompetent terrorists, arguing that the satire might offend potential advertisers.
“Cellen” (The Cell) is a satire show in 12 episodes, created by Danish comedian Omar Marzouk, who is furious about the cancellation. “It would be easy enough to create a new Muhammad-crisis, but that’s not what we’re trying to do here”, Marzouk told public broadcaster DR. “But as soon as you try to create some debate, it becomes all taboo” he says.
According to a spokesperson for the privately owned SBS, Jørgen Jürgensen, the move was made out of concern that the show could offend some of the station’s advertisers. The current terror threat against Denmark is also said to have played a part in the decision not to air the series.
Two years ago, the Danish Film Institute granted SBS TV 4.5 million kroner to finance the show. Now, culture minister Per Stig Møller has warned the station that if they don’t broadcast it by next summer, they will have to pay back the money. “We must never abstain from doing things out of fear because then whatever stopped you from doing it will win,” Møller told Berlingske Tidende newspaper.
One of the controversial Danish cartoonists who sparked riots in the Muslim world in 2005 by drawing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad is set to return soon with new works reflecting on the incident.
Kurt Westergaard, the Danish caricaturist forced into hiding after the publication of his depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005, is set to return with a new set of potentially controversial drawings. According to a report in the Copenhagen Post, Westergaard is expected to have 26 illustrations in a new book that compiles the sardonic columns by Danish writer Lars Hedegaard for the Berlingske Tidende newspaper.
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Danish Muslim imams sought to soothe Muslim anger on Friday after newspapers reprinted a drawing of the prophet Muhammad that caused outrage in Islamic countries two years ago. The newspapers republished one of the drawings in protest against what they said was a plot to murder the cartoonist who drew it. Mostafa Chendid, an imam at the Islamic Faith Community, said Danish media had confused freedom of expression with the freedom to insult others. He also called for Muslims to turn the other cheek rather than pursue violence. Several hundred Muslims gathered in central Copenhagen on Friday to protest the publication of the cartoon, shouting, God is great. Five major Danish newspapers, 10 smaller papers, and a Swedish daily reprinted the drawings. “Freedom of expression gives you the right to think, to speak and to draw what you like… no matter how many terrorist plots there are,” an editorial in the Berlingske Tidende paper noted.