14 April 1969|
|Known for||Norwegian part of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy after reprinting a facsimile in Magazinet|
|Awards||Fritt Ord Honorary Award, 2015|
Vebjørn Selbekk (born 14 April 1969) is a Norwegian newspaper editor and author. Selbekk became widely known in Norway when he in 2006 was one of the first—the first in Norway—to reprint a facsimile of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons, as editor of the conservative Christian newspaper Magazinet (now Dagen).
Early life, education and work
Born in Trondheim, Selbekk grew up in Meråker in Nord-Trøndelag. His mother grew up in East Germany, until the family fled and she was sent to Trondheim as a nine-year old. Selbekk has a cand.mag. degree from the University of Trondheim in history, Christianity and social science. He has attended Livets Ord's Bible school in Uppsala, Sweden, and was for many years an important figure of the Norwegian charismatic free church movement. In 2010 he joined the Church of Norway.
Selbekk started his career as a journalist for the local paper Stjørdalens Blad in the 1980s. In 1989 he became chief editor of the Oslo-based conservative Christian newspaper Magazinet, editing the paper until it merged with the older Bergen-based Christian newspaper Dagen in 2008, taking the name DagenMagazinet. He was societal editor of DagenMagazinet until 2010, when he became chief editor of the paper. Since 2011 the newspaper has been published under the name Dagen.
The Muhammad cartoons
Selbekk came under global media attention after 9 January 2006, when as chief editor of Magazinet he reprinted facsimiles of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons as part of a news story about debate around the publication of the cartoons in Denmark. Many Muslims expressed outrage against the drawings, and the publications eventually sparked violent protests in the Middle East, including against the Norwegian embassy in Damascus, Syria which was set on fire, and Norwegian flags being burned in the Gaza Strip. Selbekk himself received numerous death threats, and was forced to go into hiding with body guards and police protection.
He released the book Truet av islamister later the year, which chronicled the events, and criticized Norwegian authorities' handling of the case. The publication of the cartoons had sparked fierce debate in Norway as well, and after the Norwegian embassy in Syria was set on fire, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said that Selbekk had a "co-responsibility" for the attacks. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre expressed understanding for the reactions in Muslim countries, and apologized for the unrest the cartoons had sparked. After pressure from the Norwegian government, Selbekk agreed to publicly apologize "if he had hurt someone's feelings", although he later regretted the decision which he says was taken under immense pressure. Selbekk has strongly criticized what he has described as being singled out as a "public enemy", making him a "legitimate target" amid death threats against himself and his family.
Selbekk has otherwise also published images and cartoons considered offensive to Christians and Jews when relevant for news stories, both before and after the Muhammad cartoon crisis. He believes that as long as there is news relevance, images should be published regardless if someone could be offended or disagree with it.
Selbekk has written several books:
- 2001: Jødehat på norsk. ("Norwegian Jew-hatred") ISBN 82-7341-936-3
- 2006: Truet av islamister ("Threatened by Islamists"), about the events surrounding the publication of the Muhammad caricatures. ISBN 82-476-0332-2
- 2007: T.B. Barratt - forfulgt og etterfulgt. ("T.B. Barratt - persecuted and followed") ISBN 978-82-302-0422-1
- 2013: Korset og Davidsstjernen - Norge jødene og Israel fra 1814 til idag ("The Cross and the Star of David - Norway, the Jews and Israel from 1814 until today") ISBN 9788247604298
- Eik, Espen (12 October 2011). "Vebjørn Selbekk inn i Den Norske Kirke". Aftenposten (in Norwegian).
- Garvik, Olav (27 May 2015). "Vebjørn Selbekk". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian).
- Mæland, Kjetil (21 February 2015). "- De dreper skolebarn i Allahs navn. Hvor er demonstrasjonene mot det?". Nettavisen (in Norwegian).
- Rolandsen, Erik (8 January 2010). "– Støre slapp billig unna i karikaturstriden". ABC nyheter (in Norwegian).
- Bjørke, Christian Nicolai (14 January 2015). "Vebjørn Selbekk angrer dypt". Vårt Land (in Norwegian).
- Skjeldal, Gudmund (31 August 2015). "Fritt Ord-pris til Vebjørn Selbekk". Bergens Tidende (in Norwegian).
- Hvattum, Mari (26 February 2010). "Selbekk angrer på egen karikatur-beklagelse". TV 2 (in Norwegian).