Michael van der Gailen reports that Denmark’s just-resigned Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen will publicly apologize to the Islamic world because Danish newspapers printed what have become known as the infamous Mohammed cartoons.
If true, the reports are the latest in a long string of unfortunate moral failures on the part of European leaders in dealing with the rising tide of Islamic radicalism.
Rasmussen has heretofore refused to cave in to pressure from Muslim fundamentalists and was widely celebrated as a hero by those to whom the right of free speech is important. This set him apart among European leaders as the one man able and willing to refuse to appease militant Muslims at every turn.
No longer, it seems. The reason? Rasmussen’s personal ambition. van der Galien reports that the former prime minister resigned his national position to accept the post of NATO Secretary-General and had to submit to Turkey’s demands for an apology before his appointment could be cleared:
If true, it’s a major blow to the freedom of speech the prime minister said he held so dear. Rasmussen should have stuck to his guns and defended Western principles. This is not about whether one agrees with him on every single subject, nor about whether or not one is a fan of his (country’s) policy towards Turkey. It’s about the freedom of newspapers to publish whatever cartoon they want, no matter how controversial they may be in some quarters.
Before today Rasmussen’s taking the S-G job at NATO could have been viewed as a positive step. Now his entire legacy as a defender of western democratic principles is in doubt.
What price ambition, Mr. Prime Minister? No mere job is worth the compromise Rasmussen seems poised to make with his enemies.