A panel of 47 experts was asked to identify the Danes who had been most successful in setting an agenda and influencing public opinion during 2013. Dispatch International editor Lars Hedegaard came in as number 43 among 50.
The survey, published on December 14, was commissioned by Denmarks leading left-leaning daily Politiken. The question presented to the experts was: To what extent has each of the debaters been present in the public sphere and set an agenda that challenged and moved public opinion?
The panel of judges were given a list of 100 prominent opinion formers who have challenged public opinion through pronouncements, books, editorials, comments, op-ed pieces, blogs, appearances on TV or radio, discussion meetings, films etc.
Among the 50 most influential option formers selected from the 100 nominees are nationally prominent politicians, think tank directors, journalists and editors.
Lars Hedegaard is among seven new entrants to the prestigious list. Number one is the eighteen-year-old poet Yahya Hassan, whose Islam-critical poems published a few weeks ago, caused a groundswell in public opinion.
Politikens super league ranking was published one day before the daily Jyllands-Posten reported that 40 percent of Danes believe that freedom of expression is threatened and that 75 percent of those who think that it the case point to violence and threats from Islamic extremists.
And with good reason thinks Mehmet Ümit Necef, a lecturer at the University of Southern Denmark.
Free speech is not being threatened by the state or the government, but on the practical level by people who threaten poets, cartoonists and authors who express opinions on Islam. These people are typically Islamists. Quite clearly there is a threat against free speech, says Necef to Jyllands-Posten.
The assaults on Lars Hedegaard [who was the victim of an assassination attempt on February 5] and Yahya Hassan [recently attacked by a convicted terrorist at Copenhagens central train station] have shown that the debate started by Jyllands-Postens Muhammed cartoons was right and important. The population has become sympathetic with Lars Hedegaard and Yahya Hassan after the attacks on them, says Necef to Jyllands-Posten on December 15 (not online).
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