Tidlig i år skapte Karen Jespersen bølger da hun annonserte sin overgang til Venstre. At den erfarne og folkekjære politikeren allerede i september ble utnevnt til ny Social- og likestillingsminister, var derimot ikke overraskende. Jespersen har lengre politisk erfaring enn de fleste. I hele tre runder var hun statsråd for Socialdemokratene (S), to ganger som sosialminister, dernest som innenriksminister med ansvar for innvandring og integrering. Det var nettopp dette teamet som fikk henne til å forlate S. Hun stolte ikke på at S ville videreføre den nye innvandringspolitikken til VK-regjeringen under Anders Fogh Rasmussens ledelse. Betyr så dette at Jespersens grunnverdier og holdninger har endret seg? Og er partisprangene et uttrykk for at hun egentlig er en ren og skjær opportunist? Nei, svarer Jespersen. Spranget handler om å sikre sentrale verdier – likestilling og ytringsfrihet.
“I think that Karen Jespersen chose to leave the Social Democrats when she eyed a chance to gain influence and become a minister in the right-wing government by speaking against the party and the government she was part of,” said Henrik Dam Kristensen, a spokesman for the Social Democrats.
Ms. Jespersen disagrees, of course, arguing that her migration from left to right grew primarily out of her concern about the impact of immigration on Denmark. “I think immigration is a benefit for society,” she said. “But you have to be very cautious in dealing with it, to keep your basic values.”
Most Danes favor immigration, she said, but refuse to surrender the achievements of their society. “We will keep the equality of men and women and freedom of speech.”
Karen Jespersen skrev kanonsuksessen Islamister og naivister sammen med ektemannen Ralf Pittelkow i fjor. Jespersen mener at å ikke ta et oppgjør med radikale islamister er det samme som å svikte frihetselskende muslimer:
In 2005, Jyllands-Posten, which by then had hired Mr. Pittelkow as a columnist, published the Muhammad cartoons. In response to the reaction in the Islamic world, Mr. Pittelkow and Ms. Jespersen published a book, titled “Islamists and the Naïve,” in which they went so far as to assert that some qualities of Islam could also be found in Nazism and Communism. It became a best seller.
THE book did not equate the movements, she said, “but they had in common that one truth was in the world, and that one truth goes deeply into your private life.” She added, “Not all Muslims are reading the Koran in that sense, but those who interpret it this way are growing fast, in organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, though I am convinced we can isolate them.”
She said, “I think we are letting down freedom-loving Muslims if we are not fighting the radical Islamists.”
In addition to sharply limiting immigration, the current government has enacted laws to prevent honor killings, which still occur in Muslim families. If a teenager is ordered to perform such a killing to avenge the honor of a female relative, she said, parents and even uncles and aunts are held liable.
Ms. Jespersen denies that her transformation represents a betrayal of principle. “My core values are the same,” she said. “I thought there was room for my core values in Social Democracy, but I find there is more room among the conservatives.”
Fully half of the students of immigrant background in Denmark leave school without a diploma, she said. “I was called a right-winger, but I said we are letting children down who have a weak background.”
“I see a bounce back to my youth,” she went on. “People say, ‘What a long journey you’ve made.’ And I say, ‘I don’t look at it in that way.’”
Her husband, Mr. Pittelkow, agrees. “Her mother had a big influence on her,” he said. “And her mother had a saying, ‘Behave yourself, but don’t put up with anything.’”
Og i morgen er valget i Danmark. Les hele intervjuet hos The New York Times