Saturday 11 February 2006

Mary ignores Muslim riot threats

* Please see note below re error in this story

By Holly Byrnes

February 12, 2006

Champion ... Crown Princess Mary steps out in support of Danish fashion.

DENMARK'S Crown Princess Mary returned to work as a fashion patron last week, in glamorous contrast to the ugly protests that followed the publication of images of Muhammad.
As Danish officials issued travel warnings to its citizens, in the wake of riots across Europe and Asia, the royal family issued its own statement in defiance of ongoing Islamic threats.
Princess Mary honoured her longstanding commitment as patron of Copenhagen Fashion Week, supporting designers and acting as a figurehead for international trade, which has been hit by the protests.
Despite security concerns, the stylish royal walked about the Bella Centre exhibition in the Danish capital, happily talking trends and trawling displays with industry guides and onlookers.
Her appearance followed a palace statement saying the royal family would not bow to protesters by cancelling any public duties.
A court spokeswoman said the royal couple and their son, Prince Christian, would also visit Germany as planned this week.
International outrage over cartoons of the Muslim prophet threatens to spread to Denmark.
Tensions between the Muslim community there and the royal family have been heightened since Queen Margarethe called on the country to "show our opposition to Islam", in statements from a controversial biography published last year.
In the book, she said she understood how disaffected young Muslims might find refuge in religion, but said they should learn Danish so they could integrate.

Source: Sydney's
The Sun-Herald/SMH

* There has been consistent misreporting of Queen Margrethe's remarks based on wide-ranging interviews conducted from 2003 through 2004, probably due to poor translation from the original Danish without reviewing what was actually said. The error in this story comes from a book called Margrethe by Annelise Bistrup which was published in 2005 by Politiken Books. The book was done to mark the Queen's 65th birthday and was based on interviews between the Queen and journalist Annelise Bistrup.

The long and frequent interviews between Bistrup and the Queen meant that the biography could be laced with many personal insights into the Queen's life, such as how she felt as a young queen, the growth of her spirituality, and her role in passing on Danish history. The intemperate remarks about Islam which are attributed to her are not consistent with the Queen's general approach to social and cultural matters, which is liberal and inclusive of different groups in Danish society.

The Queen never said such an insensitive thing as quoted in this story, "show our opposition to Islam". She actually said channels of communication should be opened up with Muslims while at the same time acknowledging the gulf in understanding which sometimes exists between the Western and Arab worlds. Obviously these remarks were made several years ago before the current 'cartoon crisis', but they were perhaps a little prophetic about the potential for misunderstanding! (Thanks to various posters at the
CPMEMB and SRMB for this clarification of language.) Finally, for emphasis, like most royals, the Danish Royal Family doesn't make political statements.

Update related to the current situation in Denmark:

More volunteers helping refugees


Volunteers are trying to show that immigration in Denmark is more than just the Mohammed drawings

Two of Denmark's largest refugee aid associations are finding that more people are interested in volunteering for the organisations as a way to protest the government's strict immigration policies, reported newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad on Monday.

Before the current Liberal-Conservative government's tightening of asylum procedures in 2001, the Danish Red Cross had about 400 volunteers.

Last year, they had over 900, according to Bo Hansen, who coordinates the organisation's volunteers.

'A lot of volunteers say they need to show that there are other points of view than those that set the political agenda at the moment,' Hansen said.

Hansen expects that the number of Red Cross volunteers will increase to over 1000 this year.

The Red Cross's volunteers and the Danish Refugee Council's 2500 volunteers are mostly involved with helping refugees to learn Danish and other school work. Others help out by serving as contacts in the Danish community through evening or weekend visits.

Representatives from immigrant communities said the increasing number of volunteers was a sign of an overall trend.

'This shows us a truer picture of Denmark,' said Fhamy Almajid, an integration consultant.

The Copenhagen Post

A Mary connection? She is patron of the Danish Refugee Council
(Dansk Flygtningehjælp) and both Frederik and Mary have supported the Red Cross after the tsunami and also the Pakistan earthquake.

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