Flemming Rose (b. 1958) is a Danish author, journalist and editor, most widely known for his role in the 2005 Danish cartoon controversy, which sparked a larger conflict in Europe about freedom of the press, tolerance, and Islam. While working as culture editor for Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, Rose commissioned artists to create depictions of Muhammad. The cartoons sparked protests, embassy burnings, death threats, and some 200 people died across the globe in relation to the incident.
Rose defended his decision and dismissed the charge of publishing “offensive” content, saying: “As a former correspondent in the Soviet Union, I am sensitive about calls for censorship on the grounds of insult. This is a popular trick of totalitarian movements: Label any critique or call for debate
as an insult and punish the offenders….The lesson from the Cold War is: If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow. The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants.”
Rose authored a book, Tyranny of Silence, which discusses the cartoon controversy, his time reporting in the Soviet Union, and the importance of free speech to a free and liberal society. Rose sees free speech as a crucial element in combating authoritarianism. His stated purpose in publishing the cartoons was, in part, to demonstrate that censorship was already well underway in Western Europe, but that people generally weren’t aware of it.
Rose is now an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute in Washington, DC, and regularly participates in conferences, panels, and lectures regarding free speech as an essential global value.