Businessman with balls
In my last post, the Danish businessman Asger Aamund was mentioned as condemning the demands coming from Danish Industry. The following is his piece in Jyllands-Posten saturday (sorry, no link):
It is when you are under pressure, that you are tempted to give in. It is when you are under pressure, that you are lured into compromising. But it is also when you are under pressure, that you have to stand up for eachother.
In the middle og the debate over the disputed prophet-drawings the prominent businessman, CEO and board chariman Asger Aamund speaks up. And the message to politicians, Jyllands-Posten and the danish people is quite clear: "You´re not giving an inch of ground, no matter how much the political, diplomatic and economic pressure increases".
Even though Saudi Arabia has withdrawn its ambassador for consultations, and even though danish companies in the country with the official name Al-mamlaka al-Arabiya as-Saudiya fear a total boycot of danish goods, nobody can begin to give in, says Asger Aamund. ..
"As the pressure increases, it is very, very important that everybody stands firm. If the politicians or Jyllands-Posten start apologizing, it will have to very serious consequences: Firstly, it will send the signal, that you can always just start a boycot and thus remove freedom of speech. We are in a typical hostage situation, where Arla (Danish dairy giant - Henrik) has been taken hostage. If we want to avoid that in the future, we have to make an example out of it. Secondly, it will have the consequence that we institute a direct or indirect form of cencorship. It they succeed in quashing Jyllands-Posten, or the politicians become unsettled, the medie will be tempted to hold back. Next time, you for example have a critical article on the theocracy in Iran and are threatened, you will be tempted to say: No, we´re not doing this. That is why there only is one way: The politicians cannot hesitate, the prime minister has to stand firm, and the foreign minister has to use his diplomatic channels," says Asger Aamund. ..
He refers to the fact, that Denmark earlier has given in, and mentions the documentary "Deat of a princess" from 1980 as an example.
The movie was critical over the saudi government and showed, how the princess Mishael bint Fahd bint Mohammed of Saudi Arabia was beheaded in 1977, because she had been unfaithful to her husband. The documentary was shown in several european countries. Never in Denmark:
"Saudi-Arabia put enormous pressure on the english BBC, dutch radio and norwegian media. They succeeded in no places - except in Denmark, where DR (Danish national public television - Henrik) gave in. The case has been forgotten here, but probably not in Saudi Arabia, since they have succeeded in quashing freedom of speech," says Asger Aamund, who also mentions an example to contrary, when a danish paper during the Cultural Revolution in China 1966-69 published a carricature of Mao Tse-Tung.
"Back then the chinese ran amuck and sent shower of protests from the chinese embassy. but prime minister Jens Otto Krag (Social Democrat) reacted promptly and emphasized the structure of power in Denmark: We politicians on one side, the press on the other. After that, nothing was heard." ..
Asger Aamund also mentions other examples of Danish inconsequential behavior:
We have seen two bloody dictators: Augusto Pinochet of Chile and Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania. One got the finger, the other the Elephant Order (the highest danish order - Henrik). As a small country, we have a tendency to apologize when the pressure gets big enough. In this case, you can say that the danes didnt care about the prophet, but about profits. We are pretty indifferent about islam, but dont want to be hit on the wallet. But we cannot make the same mistake again," says Asger Aamund.
But dont we rist, that the prophet-affair runs amuck with this position?
"Yes, we do. But the alternative is worse. The affair ends at some time, and if we give in, we are left helpless afterwards, because we have shown that if you push hard enough, we probably will give in."
Why do you enter this debate?
I did that too in 1980 about the documentary. I have been interested in industrial exports all my life, and if we dont put the foot down this time, it will go on in eternity," says Asger Aamund.