Finnish and Swedish media refrain from publishing Danish cartoons
Newspapers in Finland and Sweden have refrained from publishing the Danish cartoons that have caused offence among Muslims around the world. However, photographs of the newspapers containing the drawings have given readers an indication of what the uproar was all about.
"It is not about what we ‘dare or what we do not dare’ publish", says Jan Wifstrand, Editor-in-Chief of the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. He says that he supports extensive freedom of expression, but that there are more important free speech issues than these particular pictures.
Janne Virkkunen, Editor-in-Chief of Helsingin Sanomat agrees, adding that the pictures are not worth publishing.
"First of all they demonise the god of one religion, and second they are insulting. Freedom of expression is such a sacred matter, that it should not be played with by ridiculing the god of another religion."
In Virkkunen’s view, the matter would turn an issue of freedom of expression, if it turns into pressure aimed at dictating how the Islamic world should be discussed in the Western press.
"And then we would also have to reconsider printing the cartoons", he says.
Virkkunen added that he hopes that there would not be an increase in self-censorship in the media, saying that a situation in which the Islamic countries are treated differently from others must not be allowed.
Also taking a conciliatory tone is Tapani Ruokanen, Editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine Suomen Kuvalehti.
He sees no point in hurting people’s religious feelings. "It is no test of freedom of expression."
"When the question involves people, whose sense of logic is different than ours, and whose reason and emotions follow tracks that are different from ours, is there any point in causing irritation?"
Ruokanen feels that it is most sensible to pull back in the matter and not risk any lives. "I admit that this is a slightly cowardly attitude."
Petri Hakala, Editor-in-Chief of the late-edition tabloid Iltalehti, says that the matter has already lost its edge as a news item. "If we were to start printing them now in the name of freedom of expression, it would seem like unnecessary provocation."
The pictures have been seen on the television screen. The first to show them was the main evening news broadcast on YLE TV-1 on Monday last week. Later they were also seen on a news broadcast of MTV3.
"A couple of pictures flashed briefly", says Ari Järvinen, head of programming on YLE 24. He also said that if the pictures had not been shown, the whole matter would have been incomprehensible for Finns.