Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt

Ministers React to Death Plot

The sanctity of freedom of speech has been central to reactions streaming in from Sweden’s political elite after an international plot to kill artist Lars Vilks was revealed by Irish and American officials this week.

Justice Minister Beatrice Ask told news agency TT on Wednesday that “we all have to help protect freedom of speech. The government has great responsibility in this work, but so do the media and others as well.”

“Freedom of speech rests under very strong protection in Sweden and it is important for many reasons. But having freedom of speech requires dialogues with different groups and also respect for different values and points of view,” she continued.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt was hesitant to say that the death plot is a threat to freedom of speech in Sweden, commenting instead that he is waiting on more information.

He did tell TT however that “we want to protect a Sweden that builds on the fact that one can believe in God in different ways or maybe not believe in God at all, and that we should nurse our way of living side by side with mutual respect.”

Both ministers emphasized that the Swedish state does not and will not approve nor condemn what newspapers publish.

The government “does not meddle in publication decisions,” Reinfeldt maintained, while Ask said that “a cabinet minister should not have opinions on what media publish in a democracy with freedom of speech.”

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