15 out of 173 in the latest worldwide index
Area: 43,098 sq. km.
Head of state: Lars Løkke Rasmussen
The 30 September 2005 publication in the daily Jyllands-Posten of 12 cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, seen as blasphemous by a part of the Muslim world, continues to poison life in Denmark. Just when the situation appeared to have calmed down, the Danish intelligence services on 11 February 2008 foiled a murder plot against Kurt Westergaard, author of the most controversial drawing, showing the prophet Mohammed wearing a black turban in the shape of a bomb, thus renewing the polemic in many Muslim countries.
Even though press freedom is still guaranteed in Denmark, the “cartoons” case has plunged the country into an unprecedented situation. The satirical drawings, published in the name of freedom of expression in one of the country’s major dailies, Jyllands-Posten, unleashed an unparalleled wave of protests against Denmark across the Muslim world in January 2006. The cartoons case that appeared to have eased by the end of 2007 was given new life on 11 February 2008 after the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard escaped a murder attempt. He is still living under police protection and never staying in one place for long.
Fresh publication of the controversial sketch in Danish newspapers the day after the attempted murder again stoked up anger in many Muslim countries, culminating in a bomb attack against the Danish embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan on 2 June 2008, leaving eight people dead and around 30 wounded.
The case prompted a bitter dispute in April 2009 between Turkey and its partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Turkey opposed the appointment of Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, to the post of secretary general on the grounds of his support for Jyllands-Posten when the cartoons were first published and called on him to apologise to the Muslim world.
The year 2008 was also punctuated by numerous appeals to the courts for convictions against the authors of the cartoons and the papers that published them although none of the cases has so far succeeded. The justice ministry on 21 October 2008 rejected a call from seven Muslim organisations, already dismissed twice before, to take the case against the management of Jyllands-Posten before the Supreme Court.