Reinfeldt speaks out over Muhammad controversy

Reinfeldt speaks out over Muhammad controversy
Photo: Ulrika Vendelbo
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has spoken out about the need for Sweden to stand up for press freedoms following the controversy surrounding the publication by a local newspaper of a drawing of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

Asked whether Sweden risked being drawn into a similar situation as that faced by Denmark last year, Reinfeldt replied:

“I think it’s important to say two things. First, we are eager to ensure that Sweden remains a country in which Muslims and Christians, people who believe in God and people who don’t believe in God, can live side by side in a spirit of mutual respect.

“We believe that we have come a very long way. I am responsible for making sure we continue down this road and take the initiative to further enhance this reciprocity and respect.

“We are also eager to stand up for freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the constitution and comes naturally to us, and which ensures that we do not make political decisions about what gets published in the newspapers. I want to make sure we keep things that way,” Reinfeldt told news agency TT.

Earlier in the day, the coalition government had come in for criticism from within its own ranks.

“There is no reason to remain silent on this issue,” Fredrik Malm, a Liberal Party member of parliament, told TT.

“Iran should change its own press laws rather than trying to change ours,” he added.