Anders Fogh Rasmussen

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To celebrate Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s turn as NATO’s Secretary-General, which starts on August 1st 2009, here are the photos of him being attacked by paint in the Danish Parliament. The protester disagreed with Rasmussen (then Denmark’s Prime Minister) and his decision to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The popular center-right leader Rasmussen, 56, was the Danish PM during the Muslim cartoon uproar of 2005 — which he called the nation’s greatest crisis since World War II. He maintained that religions ought to be respected, but refused to meet with diplomats from Muslim nations or apologize on behalf of his country. In his famous interview, he noted: “If we hadn’t defended the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad … we would have renounced the principles of European democracy. Self-censure means the end of the debate. Imagine how many museums it would be necessary to close, how many musical groups it would be necessary to silence; Galileo and Darwin would have had to abandon their research, and Monty Python would not have been able to film The Life of Brian. The EU must most vigorously defend individual freedoms, and human rights are not there to shield religions against criticism and debate.”

This controversy caused Turkey’s opposition to his selection as NATO Secretary-General, claiming he would impede support for the alliance from Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Turkey relented after President Obama personally intervened during April’s NATO summit in Strasbourg, holding a private meeting with Rasmussen and Turkish President Abdullah Gul.