Cowering Under the Bed

Certain clichés have taken root in our culture since 9-11. One of them is the solemn declaration that “if such-and-such happens, the terrorists will have won.”

The “such-and-such” varies, depending on the political and cultural inclinations of the person who says it. It may refer to the closing of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, or the building of the Ground Zero mosque. The person who says it may be making an impassioned plea for legalizing gay marriage, or imposing gun control — “If we don’t do it, the terrorists will have won.”

However, just because the sentiment is sometimes used in absurd ways doesn’t mean it’s never apropos. For example, if I have to be naked-scanned or have my generative organs groped at the airport, then I think the terrorists have won. It’s not a huge victory for them, like, say, flying the crescent and star flag over the Capitol would be. But it’s a victory nonetheless.

There have been quite a few of those little victories in the last few years. Businesses stopped giving away promotional piggy banks. Molly Norris went into hiding. Juan Williams was fired from NPR. Kurt Westergaard has to live in a specially fortified house under constant police protection.

And the Danish TV network SBS is afraid to run a comedy series about incompetent Muslim terrorists. There’s been a new terror warning in Denmark, and it has the TV executives cowering under their beds.

One of the interesting things about this story is that the Danish government helped fund a vulgar slapstick comedy series about jihad. A government minister is actually trying to compel the network (a private corporation, if I understand it correctly) to air the series, since the program has already been paid for. He says he doesn’t want to “interfere with the editorial independence of SBS”, but that’s disingenuous. Of course he does — he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Many thanks to our Danish correspondent TB for bring this to our attention, and to Anne-Kit for translating two articles from today’s Politiken. I’ve included a trailer for the TV series, so the embedded video is below the jump (to thwart the “Blogger bug”) followed by the two newspaper articles.

First, the trailer for “Terror Cell” (WARNING: the language in this video is not PG-13):

The first article from Politiken, published this afternoon:

Danish TV Station Too Scared to Air Terror Satire

Omar Marzouk is furious that SBS “is too afraid to take the p*** out of extremists”.

It is hard to understand the TV company’s concern over comedian Omar Marzouk’s satirical series “The Cell”.

That is the opinion of Henrik Bo Nielsen, Director of the Danish Film Institute.

The Institute has contributed millions of kroner to the series.

“I think it is unfortunate that they have chosen not to air the series. This is a very funny satirical series, and I have not seen anything that would give me cause for concern”, says the Director, who has seen excerpts from the series.

Moved, changed, postponed

The series, which was completed two years ago, was to have been SBS’s major satire venture.

Initially SBS changed the title of the series, which is about a bunch of useless European terrorists, from “The Terror Cell” to “The Cell”.

Then it was moved from Kanal 5 to the less viewed “6’eren”. And now the series has been postponed indefinitely.

According to Jesper Jürgensen, Head of Information at SBS, the series may offend some of their advertisers. And the current terror threat against Denmark has also played a part in the decision to drop the series.

Furious author

A weak argument, says the author of the series.

“I am furious that SBS is too scared to broadcast a series that takes the p*** out of extremists”, says Omar Marzouk to newspaper BT.

SBS is obliged to run the series within one year of receiving government funding of DKK4.5 million.


This deadline was extended to 6 December, and now the Ministry for Culture has granted the TV company an extension until 6 June 2011.

Otherwise they will have to pay back the grant.

The series stars Omar Marzouk, Nicolas Bro, Ramadan Huseini and Simon Juul as the useless terrorists.

The second article from Politiken, published a bit later this afternoon:

Run “The Cell” or Pay Up

Minister demands grant for terror series refunded if series not screened.

Minister for Culture Per Stig Møller [Conservative Party] warns SBS that the TV company will be presented with a bill if a government funded satirical series is never screened.

At issue is comedian Omar Marzouk’s satirical series “The Cell”, which SBS TV initially moved, then changed its title and finally shelved indefinitely citing the heightened terror threat against Denmark.

“If they do not screen the series they will have to pay back the money, because they were given public service funds to broadcast programmes on the commercial channels. We have given them until the summer of 2011 to screen the series, and if that doesn’t happen they will have to repay the money”, says Per Stig Møller to

“The Cell” is a satirical series in 12 episodes whose original title was “The Terror Cell”.

More than two years ago SBS TV was granted DKK4.5 million from the public service fund of the Danish Film Institute to produce the series.


On the other hand Per Stig Møller points out that he has no desire to interfere with the editorial independence of SBS.

The Minister for Culture warns in principle against abstaining from screening the series out of fear.

“You must never abstain from doing something out of fear, for then you have imposed self-censorship out of fear. This would mean that whatever scared you into not doing what you would have otherwise done, has won. Then you have allowed yourself to be scared, and those that scared you have won. So you must not do that”, says Per Stig Møller.
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