Yesterday Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist most known for his Muhammad cartoons was awarded the German Media Freedom Prize.
Sabine Sasse, project manager of the award event told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
“”Kurt Westergaard is a symbol for press freedom and freedom of opinion because he stands for what he is doing — and it’s not right that some people want to kill him,”
“Death threats are not our culture. So we fight for these rights. In a good democracy, it must be possible to have different opinions and discuss things.”
Sasse said the prize “is a sign from leading persons of our society that freedom of speech and of the press is very, very important for us. Whatever happens, we will fight for this — – not with weapons, but with the weapon of language and awards.”
The 2007 honoree of the same award, Journalist Akbar Ganji and the lone Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi were to attend the ceremony. In protesting the awarding of the prize to Kurt Westergaard, both Iranians walked out.
In subsequent interviews both Iranians who are living in exile due to lack of freedom including the freedom of speech back in Iran vehemently condemned Mr. Westergaard and the award officials for recognizing him. By citing hate crime laws, the Nobel Peace Laureate went a step further and intimated legal sanction should be imposed on Mr. Westergaard for his inflammatory cartoons.
Did Ganji and Ebadi do the right thing?
Did they set the right example for tolerance which is sorely needed these days?
Did they manifest an appreciation of what democracy is all about?
Can Muslims living in the free societies demand their belief be exempted from the very same treatment all other beliefs get and still claim compatibility with democracy as Lady Ebadi claims all the time?