Danish and Norwegian newspaper editors who bravely published Prophet Mohammed cartoons are set to receive a prestigious award from a Norwegian free speech group, as well as 100,000 Norwegian Kroner (£8,000/$12,000).
Jyllands-Posten editor Flemming Rose will be honoured by the Fritt Ord (free speech) group for his “steadfast defence of free speech” since he first published the cartoons a decade ago. Fritt Ord was founded in 1974, said of the award:
“On September 30, 2005 Jyllands-Posten published a page with twelve different drawings, some of them caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad. That was the start of one of the most important free speech debates in our time. Ten years after, it is still not finished.”
Vebjorn Selbekk, the editor of Norway’s Magazinet is also due to be honoured for publishing the cartoons.
“Flemming Rose and Vebjørn Selbekk have become the symbols of the caricature controversy. Through continuous and courageous participation in public life, they promoted the understanding of freedom of speech as the most fundamental human right, and the basis for other freedoms. They both have paid a very high personal price for their efforts and have had their lives changed. Where many others have failed, have Rose and Selbekk shown great courage in the struggle for liberal principles. [The] Freedom of Expression board has therefore decided to award Rose and Selbekk [the] Freedom of Expression Honour on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the start of the cartoon controversy.”
The newspapers, as well as their editors, have enjoyed police protection since publication, thought it didn’t stop Selbekk also writing the book Threatened by Islamists in 2006.
Fritt Ord has previously honoured those who have spoken out against anti-Semitism, as well as journalists who have risked their lives reporting from conflict zones such as Afghanistan.
There have been a number of foiled attacks on the Jyllands-Posten in recent years.