Flemming Rose and Vebjørn Selbekk receive the Freedom of Expression Foundation Tribute

August 31 2015

Oslo, 31 August 2015

The Freedom of Expression Foundation Tribute is being awarded to newspaper editors Flemming Rose and Vebjørn Selbekk for their firm defence of freedom of expression throughout 10 years of caricature controversy.

Flemming Rose and and Vebjørn Selbekk have been the very symbols of the caricature controversy. Through continuous, courageous participation in the public debate, they have promoted understanding of freedom of expression as the most fundamental human right, and as the basis for other freedoms. They have both paid a very high personal price for their efforts and their lives have been changed. Where many others have failed, Rose and Selbekk have shown great courage in the struggle for liberal principles.

Accordingly, the Fritt Ord Foundation’s Board decided to award the Freedom of Expression Foundation Tribute to Rose and Selbekk on the 10th anniversary of the onset of the caricature controversy.

It was on 30 September 2005 that Jyllands-Posten published a page with 12 very different drawings, including caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed. This marked the start of one of the most salient debates about freedom of expression in our time. Ten years have passed and the controversy is still raging. In the winter and the spring of 2006, there were violent riots at several locations in the Middle East and Asia in the aftermath of publication. Norway attracted attention when the newspaper Magazinet presented a lengthy report in January 2006 that contained a facsimile of Jyllands-Posten’s caricatures.

The torching of embassies, mass protests, death threats, threats of terror and terrorist attacks have been caused by the caricature controversy throughout these 10 years, e.g. most recently, the terrorist acts in Paris and Copenhagen this past winter. However, the caricature controversy has also led to a deeper, more profound understanding of the fundamental importance of freedom of expression in today’s society.

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Flemming Rose (57) was culture editor of Jyllands-Posten when the caricatures were published. Today he is foreign affairs editor at the same paper. Among other books, he has published The Tyranny of Silence (2011) and on 28 September, he will publish the book Hymn to Freedom to commemorate the decade that has passed since the caricature controversy began.

Vebjørn Selbekk (46) was editor-in-chief of the newspaper Magazinet in 2006. Today he is editor-in-chief of the newspaper Dagen. Among other books, he has published Threatened by Islamists (2006) on the caricature controversy. In January, he will publish The Power of Fear about the 10 years since Magazinet published the caricatures.

The recipients will receive NOK 100 000 each. The Freedom of Expression Foundation Tribute acknowledges remarkable efforts to promote free speech, often in connection with current events. The Fritt Ord Foundation awards the Freedom of Expression Foundation Tribute. The award ceremony for Flemming Rose and and Vebjørn Selbekk will take place in September.

Contact information:
Foreign Affairs Editor Flemming Rose, flemming.rose@jp.dk
Editor-in-Chief Vebjørn Selbekk, vebjorn@dagen.no
Board member of the Fritt Ord Foundation, Frank Rossavik, Mobile +47 902 13338


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