But you can read it here first!
Dear Ms Brown
I am not sure if you're planning to comment on the extremely fiery subject of the cartoons in the Danish press but I would like to add some points that I believe are valuable to the debate. I apologize if I sound angry but that's because I sort of am. Most of the commentary, letters to editors and blogs fail to realize one important point. These pictures are not just blasphemous, they are RACIST. The defenders of the newspaper and the right to free speech fail to realize what a racist society Denmark really is. I am a liberal Kuwaiti woman who tends to crack the odd joke about Muslims but I was so offended by these cartoons because I know what kind of society produced them. I lived and worked in Denmark for 2 years and left last month, I had a high paying corporate job and I still didn't escape from the derogatory comments and the odd looks I get from my neighbours because I look Middle Eastern. I know how that society thinks. This is not multi-ethnic Britain, this is small farmer mentality, xenophobic Denmark. That image I had of chilled-out free society is so far from the truth. The reality is it resembles England in the 50's or Alabama in the 60's. Believe me I have had many conversations and heated debates about this with my more liberal minded Danish colleagues and we have come to the conclusion that we in the Arab world, while we don't agree with their way of life we respect them.. but they don't respect us AT ALL. It's as simple as that. I have lived and studied in Britain and I haven't met one member of any ethnic minority that wanted to get the hell out ( well maybe to escape the grey weather) as opposed to every single second generation Dane I met. The reason and I quote "we grew up here but we feel unwelcome. We can't get jobs etc..." When you ask the original Danes the answer is "they're not Danish enough", note that there's no denial.
I was the most educated person in my department if not the company but I didn't escape from the stereotyping. I get asked regularly how come you're not married off to your cousin? One time I had enough and I all I said was do you swing and watch porn every night? That's a Scandinavian stereotype. I found myself defending my ancient culture over and over again until I flipped one day and said pick up a damn book and read. What gets to me is the sweeping commentary on 1 billion people based on a few uneducated economic and political migrants that live amongst them, As if we're all the same, from Morocco to Indonesia.
Here are some examples, myself and a couple of friends from Kuwait decide to go to this average restaurant where everyone was white Danish except us. I can understand Danish and I hear this girl sitting next to us telling her friends to hide their bags from us, failing to realize that my friend's bag was probably more expensive than her entire wardrobe. The number of times my flashy colleagues who are used to the South of France are refused service because they are foreign. A doctor friend of mine, a Dane originally from Afghanistan was working the late shift and she wanted to treat a patient in ER but the woman freaked when she saw that she wasn't white. This is Denmark.
I actually read this headline in one of the papers: Muslim drivers are a risk to public safety during Ramadan. Copenhagen is the only city that is refusing to give permission for a mosque to be built, where as every other faith has its place of worship. I attempted to mix better by learning their useless language and because my accent is not quite right no one would give me the time of day. Imagine being in east London and having to speak cockney to get attention. The advice I got from friends was it's better to speak English if you're foreign then they think you're a tourist and not an immigrant. And then the queen declares last summer that immigrants must learn Danish if they wish to integrate. Would you?
There are clubs that officially declared they're not allowing people from "Norrebro" in. That's the multi ethnic boho area in Copenhagen. One of the few places that actually bothers opening on a Sunday and feed hungry drunk Danes on the weekends.
They have a serious problem with integration and racism, much like France with similar high rates of unemployment and crime. It's a very sensitive and heated debate over there. People are worried that right-wing parties are gaining ground. Even the current Danish prime minister won on an anti immigration card.
So I wonder why would a newspaper, at a time of heightened ethnic tension, serious integration issues, with right wing radios calling for the destruction of Muslims print such garbage?
Oh and I dare anyone try to criticize anything Danish in Denmark. I have never met such patriotic cry babies in my life. Why didn't anyone try to take a harder look at the society before going out of their way to defend the right of free speech? This is racist. How would the image of Martin Luther king in shackles on a slave ship go down with African Americans? Or the entire continent? I actually dared some people over there to do it. No one was up for it. Just like slavery is a painful episode in African American history so is the current state of affairs in the Muslim world. None of us like to be depicted as terrorists because the majority of us aren't. It's not funny.
It is a sensitive time for any moderate Muslim trying to live normally in the West. I could have accepted this in Britain which despite what many people think is an extremely tolerant society but bigoted, narrow minded Denmark? Every society is racist to a certain degree but I remember comparing notes with my Asian British friends about Denmark and they were truly shocked. It is an unwelcoming, extremely racist society that still refers to second and third generation Danes as immigrants in the press, including the Jylland-Posten.
When I put this to Scandinavians in general the answer would be to ask me to look at our societies, but we never bragged about being tolerant and respectful of human rights. We are not the self-proclaimed bastions of free speech. It's truly horrible in the Middle East but at least it's in your face and not hypocritical.
After all this Denmark bashing I have one question for the thousands of outraged Muslims? America killed hundred of thousands of Muslims and you lose your head and withdraw ambassadors over a bunch of cartoons printed in a second rate paper in a small Nordic country with a population of 5 million?
That's the true outrage!