In a shock announcement today the prime minister of Denmark told reporters that the current cartoon controversy had been a misguided attempt by a local newspaper publisher to raise the profile of the obscure Scandinavian country.
Denmark, a small, politically correct and astonishingly boring country of some six million polite citizens -- and two obnoxious death metal bands -- has seldom made international headlines, let alone been of any interest to people other than Danes.
It is frequently mistaken for Finland or Norway. Or Latvia.
Danish prime minister Dr Stig Rasmussensen has revealed that because of that confusion, since the late 90s a number of publishers and politicians have been sent on overseas fact-finding missions to look at ways of raising the country’s profile, and explore new modes of international dialogue.
It was as a result of a recent overseas mission that the current crisis has developed.
“Enquiries have shown,” said Dr Rasmussensen, “that the publisher in question had recently been on a trip to New Zealand and while there he was fascinated to learn of how towns in that country put themselves ‘on the map‘, as they said.
“I am told that a gumboot throwing competition, a cake bake-off and a country music festival put various small towns in New Zealand ‘on the map‘.
"We have since checked a number of atlases and to our surprise found that there they were, ‘on the map’. So the idea must work.
“We had never heard of this ‘on the map’ idea but brought it on board to study. The publication of the cartoons had been as a result of the publisher looking at ways to put Denmark ‘on the map‘.”
The prime minister added that the publisher admitted the paper had toyed with the idea of backing a major Danish comedy movie, but “our most successful comedies, like Italian For Beginners for example, weren’t actually that funny.”
“That film only did well at international film festivals because audiences were told in advance it was a comedy -- and so they laughed.”
According to Dr Rasmussensen the newspaper publisher opted for the cheaper option of commissioning a series of cartoons about an internationally recognizable figure -- the paper settled on Muhammad after rejecting Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald because of possible legal action -- in the hope that publishing images of a high profile figure in an amusing manner would put Denmark “on the map“.
“In that regard it was extremely successful, however there also appears to have been a downside. Danish humour once again seems to have gone past people.”
The publisher of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, Mr Voborg Mortensen, said he was not the only one to have been overseas and come back with new ideas: Denmark’s minister of sport had spent time in Australia discussing ways of introducing rugby to the nation which would then allow it to compete in forthcoming Rugby World Cup competitions.
Contacted for comment last night for his opinion about the cartoon incident the minister was candid and forthcoming.
“It was a big ask for these cartoonists but they had to back themselves and just go for it,” said sports minister Friis Arne Moller.
“They’d put in the hard yards and were looking for a result, and at the end of the day we’d have to say they were satisfied with their performance.
"Obviously there are still some outstanding issues, and they’ll focus on those in coming weeks.
“But right now they’ll take the win and be happy with having upped their performance. There will be an enquiry and we’ll be happy to wait for the outcome of that.
"Tonight they’ll probably be having a few quiet ones and thinking things over.”
Denmark’s foreign minister Ms Karen-Lise Mejding also acknowledged this week that she had spent considerable time in the Bronx and Brooklyn and, using what she had learned from that cross-cultural experience, expected to go to various Middle Eastern countries soon to talk directly with Muslim clerics and political leaders, which are essentially one and the same thing.
Clear dialogue was important to resolve the current situation, she said.
“Yo, and big props to my homies,” she said last night from a bar in downtown Roskilde.
“Word up, know wha-um sayin’. Dis shit wid the comic pictures ain’t no big thing, know wha-um sayin’. You got to get down wid dat shit, get it on with the project or ain’t nuttin’ gonna be get done.
“Nuff wid that shit, it’s time for peoples to be gettin’ it all together, and don’t be messin’ wid the negative now.
"Take it to the next level, know wha-um sayin’. Time to cool it all down, I’m talkin’ ‘bout respect.
“So to all my Muslim brudders I just want to say we givin’ big-ups to you all. Ain‘t no bad thing. We all is speaking to you live and direct coz we don’t want no problem in the hood.
“No misunderstanin’ now. You is da bomb and we is da bomb. So lock and load, know wha-um sayin‘. Represent.
“To you all Islamist peoples I be sayin‘: peace muthafuggers.”