Karsten Kjaer – Denmark

Linked with Why Democracy?

KARSTEN KJAER is a Journalist, Director and Producer who worked as a foreign correspondent for World Media before turning to television. He has produced more than 200 programmes for Danish and European television as well as numerous specials on world affairs, especially in the Middle East. Karsten is the founder and owner of the independent production company Freeport Film in Copenhagen. He is best known for his use of satire, humour and extraordinary methods in the coverage of sensitive political and cultural issues. (on whyDemocracy.net).

He names himself a Rock’n'Roll Fan and a Computer Freak.

He says: … “Because of our recent history it would have been very important for Finns to see the documentary”, Kjær says, in a reference to Finland’s political balancing act as a neighbour of the Soviet Union, and the self-censorship that occurred in the postwar period. “In addition, the subject is very topical in the Nordic Countries. Kjær accuses Iikka Vehkalahti, producer of the YLE Documentary Project, of personal censorship, after hearing the justification put forward by Vehkalahti for the decision” … (full text, October 12, 2007).

His blog he shares with everyone.


Karsten Kjaer – Denmark

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… The recent furore over allegedly anti-Islamic cartoons published in a Danish newspaper is the subject of the provocative documentary “Bloody Cartoons.” Director Karsten Kjaer asks whether respect for Islam, combined with the heated response to the cartoons, is leading to self-censorship and whether there should be limits to freedom of speech in a democracy … (full text, 1 Aug 2008).

… As Pub Philosopher reminds us “It’s two years since Jyllands Posten printed the Mohammed cartoons and about twenty months since thousands of Muslims rioted over something that most of them had never seen”. This last point is underlined in the BBC film when Karsten interveiws an Iranian professional protestor … (full text, October 17, 2007).

… the scoop of the film is an interview with a “professional demonstrator” in Iran:
This 72-year old man is instructing the Basij forces of the revolutionary guard to attack the Danish embassy. Reporter Karsten Kjaer finds him in a town outside Teheran, and contrary to all the official figures the guy is honest.
‘We heard that the Prophet had been insulted, so in a letter to the Danish ambassador we demanded that the Danish government punish the offenders and apologize,’ he explains.
‘But did you see the cartoons?’
‘No, I did not.’
When he is presented with the cartoon showing Mohammed with a bomb in his turban he replies.
‘Is this Mohammed? He doesn’t look like the prophet. He is an Indian Sikh.’

That’s what all the fuss was about? … Watch the video: Bloody Cartoons – The World’s reaction to the cartoons, 48 sec … (full text).

Find him and his publications on filmography on IMDb; on Google Video-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.

… I en ny dokumentarfilm forsøger journalist Karsten Kjær at finde en forklaring på den ekstreme muslimske reaktion på de 12 Muhammed-tegninger. I stedet måtte han konstatere, at hovedkræfterne bag optøjerne stadig er vrede på Danmark … (full text, Oct. 5, 2007).

It’s a great idea to have TV networks from around the world screening a series of documentaries about democracy. The blurb accompanying Bloody Cartoons says the series does not offer a solely Western perspective, which is encouraging. Yet this film, about cartoons printed in a Danish newspaper depicting Mohammed – and the uproar they caused – is clearly presenting events from the point of view of Danish filmmaker Karsten Kjaer. Yes, he interviews a number of muftis and other Muslim leaders but we’re left in no doubt what he thinks … (full text, June 15, 2008).

Do you remember two years ago, when Western media cowardly refused to show their audience the “terrible” cartoons, so the audience could form their own opinion? One of the most hypocritical papers was the N.Y.Times, who refused to show the cartoons they were describing (out of “respect”), but instead illustrated their article with a picture of the Virgin Mary made out of elephant dung – out of “respect” for whom? … (full text, April 17, 2008).  and see also its 500 years old picture on the same page, showing Mohammed asleep while drunk.

… Since the publication of Prophet Mohamed cartoon, Denmark have become the focus of the ire of the Muslim world. Muslim demonstrators around the world have burned Danish flags, Saudi Arabia and Libya have withdrawn their ambassadors to Denmark, and Danish goods are being boycotted across the Middle East. About 28 Muslims died while “violently” protesting against the danish cartoon. Danish journalist Karsten Kjaer has made a documentary where he travels around the Middle East, interviewing all the muftis and imams who were behind the protests and riots. It turns out – surprise – that none of them had ever seen the cartoon. I personally saw the cartoon and the man resembles an Indian Shiks …(full text, Feb 2006).

… What do Danish cartoons tell us about contemporary democracy? A lot it seems. Freedom of expression has always been a core principle of democracy. Imagining one without the other is unthinkable to most people. But what happens when one democratic right infringes on the rights of others? The director Karsten Kjær films in Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Qatar, France, Turkey and Denmark, talking to some of the people that played key roles during the cartoon crisis. He asks whether respect for Islam combined with the heated response to the cartoons is now leading us towards self-censorship. How tolerant should we be, he wonders, of the intolerant. And what limits should there be, if any, to freedom of speech in a democracy. Since the furore of the Danish cartoons it is clear that not everyone agrees with the idea of limitless freedom … (full text).

.. Danish director Karsten Kjær travelled throughout the Middle East to investigate who and what was responsible for the wave of violence released from the cartoons for his documentary ‘Those Damned Drawings’ (‘De Forbandede Tegninger’). He said the primary theme of the film is freedom of expression and its boundaries. ‘I’ve sought to be objective about the crisis’ factual events,’ Kjær told public broadcaster DR. ‘But it is also a very personal film that portrays my travels around the Middle East and my own impression of both the causes and consequences of the conflict brought about by the 12 drawings. The film suggests the crisis began full-force when the man many consider to be Islam’s most powerful figure, Sheik Yussuf Al-Qaradawi, declared 3 February 2006 as ‘Anger Day’ on his TV programme. [Why bother with "Two Minutes' Hate" when you can have a full day? - DP] A wave of violent protests across the globe unleashing followed in the wake of that transmission. In the documentary, Kjær shows the Mohammed drawings to Al-Qaradawi, who views them for the first time. Kjær also shows the cartoons to Ali Bakhsi, the Iranian who spearheaded demonstrations in Tehran that led to the burning of the Danish embassy there. Bakhsi laughingly says the drawings look nothing like Mohammed but rather like an Indian Sikh … (full text, October 06, 2007).

Demokratie für alle ist eine Collection von zehn Dokumentarfilmen von unabhängigen Filmemachern aus China, Indien, Japan, Pakistan, Liberia, Ägypten, Russland, Bolivien, Dänemark und den USA sowie 12 Kurzfilmen. Regie führten Alex Gibney, Sabiha Sumar, Nino Kirtadze, Weijun Chen, Daniel Junge und Siatta Scott Johnson, Lalit Vachani, Leile Menjou und Sherief Fahmy, Kazuhiro Soda, Rodrigo Vazquez und Karsten Kjaer … (full text, 10. September 2008).


Danish imams on candid camera, March 23, 2006;

a book about the cartoon crisis – Dessins et Manipulations;

Murder plot against Kurt Westergaard, 12 Feb 2008;

Danish Film awarded at the one world film festival, March 5, 2008;

Lesbian Cotton Candy Vendors and other films.

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