Monday, October 31, 2005

War in France, War in Denmark

Lately, the moslem-led riots now running for four days straight in France have been given a great deal of attention, fex from the BBC:

France's Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has promised to step up security after violence flared for a fourth night in a Paris suburb.

Six policemen were hurt and 11 people arrested in the latest clashes with youths in Clichy-sous-Bois, although it was calmer than on previous nights.

Not that well covered is a very similar series of riots, also running for four days, in Århus, Denmark. Nothing of it has penetrated to the english-language sections of Danish media, so the following is my translation of a piece in daily Jyllands-Posten:

Rosenhøj Mall has several nights in a row been the scene of the worst riots in Århus for years. "This area belongs to us", the youths proclaim. Sunday evening saw a new arson attack.

Their words sound like a clear declaration of war on the Danish society. Police must stay out. The area belongs to immigrants.

Four youths sit on the wall in Rosenhøj Mall sunday afternoon, calling themselves spokesmen for the groups, that three nights in a row have ravaged and tried to burn down the restaurant and other stores.

Around the parking lot, cars with youngsters from the immigrant community are swarming, and many are walking around, greeting each others with a sense of victory after the worst riots in Århus in years.

Every night 30-40 youts took part, especially immigrants.

Only two were arrested.

That was a victory.

"We knew, you would be coming. We are spokesmen", said a young man with a black knitted hood on his head, when JP (Jyllands-Posten - Henrik) visited Rosenhøj Mall sunday. He was angry. Very angry. Behind him the pub Hot Shot has scars after the attacks with cobble stones, and the stores along the parking lot besides the small mall have their windows covered with adhesive tape in a spiderweb pattern.

Four hours after the short meeting, Falck (Danish privat emergency service - Henrik) sent a group of fire engines under police escort to the nursery Kjærslund on Søndervangs Allé, right across the street from Rosenhøj Mall.

Gasoline through the window

A window had been shattered at the back of the house, and the fire had been blazing, apparently because of gasoline poured onto the floor, then lit.

Falck stopped on Viby Square, a couple kilometers from the site of the arson attack, waiting for the police to turn up so they could be escorted to the nursery. Two nights earlier, other Falck-employees were threatened, when they were covering up broken shop-windows.

Cobblestones had smashed the shop-windows from one end of the mall to the other. The police wrote in their report saturday night, that the youths had their stones with them in bags, when they came to Rosenhøj.

Cobblestones against bakery.

Saturday morning a 16-year-old somali boy was incarcerated, accused of aggravated assault, as he friday evening threw a cobblestone through a window in the bakery. The stone passed closely by baker Børge Svaløs face. ..

He calls himself 100 percent Palestinian, born in a refugee camp in Lebanon 19 years ago, and now out of work in Denmark.

"The police has to stay away. This is our area. We decide what goes down here".

And then the bit with the drawings of the prophet Muhammed comes around:

We are tired of what we see happening with our prophet. We are tired of Jyllands-Posten. I know it isnt you, but we wont accept what Jyllands-Posten has done to the prophet", he says aggressively, and the others nod approvingly.

Planned for three weeks

To of them are Turks, and it is the first time, that Turks and Palestinians act together, the 19-year-old says.

"We have planned this for three weeks. That is why only two were arrested saturday nigh. The police will cordon off it all. But we know the ways out", he claims, and then disappears, munching on a piece of pizza from Fun Pizza.

The pizzerias windows are also held together by adhesive tape after the attacks with cobblestones.

Of course, it isnt of the size the Paris riots have, but then France is 10 times larger than Denmark, population-wise, and has 25 times more moslems.

Its not just Paris.


It has been brought to my attention, that "mall" would be a bad translation in the above article. Please substitute with "shopping centre" when you read the post.


Danish PM put up as model for his defense of freedom of speech

From Jyllandsposten:

Death-threatened politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali hails PM's refusal to discuss Danish press coverage of Islam

European leaders should step forward and support Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's refusal to meet with eleven Muslim ambassadors to discuss press coverage of Islam, Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali said on Sunday.

Somalian-born Hirsi Ali, who is considered one of northern Europe's staunchest Islam opponents, has lived under police protection for a year, ever since Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered for his critical film on women in Islam, which Hirsi Ali penned.

Daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported that the 36-year-old politician and debater supported whole-heartedly the paper's decision to call for and print cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed last month, an action considered blasphemous by devout Muslims and an unneeded provocation by many Danish politicians and journalists.

The ambassadors of eleven Muslim countries have deplored the newspaper's decision and asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is also the minister of press issues.

Rasmussen, however, declined to meet the ambassadors, saying that if they had the slightest understanding of the workings of Danish society, they would know that he had no desire or powers to change the newspaper's editorial policies.

'The Danish prime minister's reply to the ambassadors should be an example for every European leader,' Hirsi Ali told Jyllands-Posten's reporter. 'The prime minister steps forward to tell Muslims loud and clear that the freedom of expression is a deciding factor for a free society, and that a prime minister in a free society neither can nor wishes to regulate what newspapers do or do not do. The fact that he makes a special point of explaining this to the ambassador from Turkey - which is seeking entrance to the EU - is an expression of true statesmanship.' ..

She said Jyllands-Posten had made the right decision to print the caricatures of Mohammed, and urged media in other countries to do the same.

'It's necessary to taunt Muslims on their relationship with Mohammed, because otherwise we will never have the dialogue we need to establish with Muslims on the most central question: Do you really feel that the prophet Mohammed is completely infallible, and that every Muslim in Europe in 2005 should follow the way of life the prophet had 1400 years ago, as the Koran dictates? The provocation is necessary to spark the debate,' Hirsi Ali said.

Olli Rehn, the EUs Commisioner for Enlargement (with amongst others moslem Turkey), agrees somewhat. At least he has to so as to not destroy his goal, to get Turkey into the EU (from Berlingske Tidende 28. October, though the article didnt make it online. My translation)

The official Turkish protests to the Danish government over the Daily Jyllands-Postens depictions of the profet Mohammed shouldnt have any influence on the EUs negotiations for the admission of Turkey, EU enlargement commisioner Olli Rehn thinks. Even if he hints at, that the Turkish government has acted boorishly in the case.

The Finnish EU commisioner at the same time beklager Jyllands-Postens actions in the case, since the pictures can create provocations and add to "an atmosphere hostile against foreigners".

In a statement on the behalf of the entire commision, Olli Rehn says, that "freedom of speech is a fundamental value for the European community and Europe", and that judging in disputes over freedom of speech is the exclusive domain of the independent courts - not the governments. "If you have a complaint over the use of freedom of speech, you should go to the courts, and then its up to the courts to settle the case". ..

On a personal level, Olli Rehn strongly deplores, that the drawings of the profet Muhammed in Jyllands-Posten may have contributed to fertilizing the soil for anti-foreigner sentiment and conflicts between religions and cultures. "When you show pictures showing Muhammed with a bomb in his turban, you should expect, that it will act provocatively and create conflicts", says the EUs commisioner for enlargement.

Finland earlier this year saw something Mr. Rehn would probably have approved of: "accidental" censorship of a book by Ms. Hirsi Ali, the dissident quoted at the beginning of this piece (from Helsingin Sanomat):

The Finnish translation of a controversial book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born a Somali-born member of the Dutch Parliament, has a passage missing, in which the writer sharply criticises the founder of Islam - the Prophet Mohammed. ..

Hirsi Ali said that the Finnish publisher of the book, Otava Publishers, had asked for permission to omit the passage, because it might be found to be offensive by Muslims.

However, she did not give permission for any such omission.

At Otava, Tero Norkola, head of publishing at the company’s non-fiction department, was unaware of the missing passage when Helsingin Sanomat contacted him. He said that he is certain that Otava did not deliberately order the cut.

Norkola was asked why he thought that the missing passage happened to be the one that has raised so much international controversy.

"It is interesting. Mysterious", he admits. However, he insists that no decision was made to cut the passage, and that its omission must have been a "technical error". ..

For safety reasons Otava omitted the name of the Finnish translator from the book. Translators’ names have been left out of other versions as well. ..

Hirsi Ali’s Paris-based agent did not know that the Finnish version did not contain the book’s most widely-quoted passage, in which she said that by Western standards, Mohammed was a "pervert and a tyrant" who opposed freedom of speech. She also says that Mohammed is the model for all Muslim men to follow, and suggests that this may be the reason why many Muslim men are violent.

"Accidental" censorship?? Sure it was....


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Place blame everywhere but where it is due

After the arrests of moslems planning a terrorist attack in Denmark, the local batch of moslem activists, imans and the like have gone into high gear trying to avoid islam having to take even one little bit of blame (source: Berlingske Tidende, but only in Danish. Translation and errors are mine):

Immigrant consultat Fahmy Almajid is not surprised about yesterdays arrest in Glostrup of four youths, under suspicion for planning terror attacks. He is one of the people who, after the bombings in London on 7. July this year, predicted, that there would be an attack on Danish territory, too.

Here in Denmark, he sees the heated debate on islam and moslems as a possible reason, that we now also see terror-planning here.

- I cant see any other motives, that might make kids commit suicide, taking multiple hundreds of innocents with them in death.

*cough* Islam *cough*

He emphasizes, that it of course isnt everybody that will go that far.

- There are those who are weak, and unfortunately become easy victims of terrorist organisation, says Fahmy Almajid.

But he still thinks, that the chances to stop new persons, who might have plans about terror, are big.

"If we try to get the debate back on track again, then I think chances are pretty big. If we try to get the debate back to where it was in the 90s, and not as it has been since 2001. Because I definitely think, that the debate about islam and moslems has run off course.

Background: 2001 was not only the year of 2001, but also the year when the current rightwing government, including the immigration- and islam-sceptical Danish People´s Party got voted in. Many people like Almajid also see it as the year the good days of suppression of islam-scepticism in the media ended.

Imam Abdul Wahid Petersen (Danish drugs smuggler who converted to islam) doesnt think Islam is a motivating factor, either (source: same paper as above, but an article that isnt available online. Translation and errors etc):

Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen thinks, that it is the political situation in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine (which of course isnt a country - Henrik) and Chechnya (not a country, either - Henrik), that enrages the youths.

Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen thinks, that it is the political situation in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya, that angers the youths.

- It is typically situations like those, that are used widely internally in the moslem community to show the injustice of the world, he says.

Yeah, I guess overthrowing genocidal totalitarian dictatorships and introducing democracy (Iraq and Afghanistan), defending against terrorism (Palestine) and invasion (Chechnya - remember the Jihadi invasion of Daghestan in 1999?) is unjust. After all, it apparently entails beating the crap out of some people the Jihadis consider good people.

And notice, that it is politics, not Islam that has turned them to terrorism. That all the 8 arrestees are fundamentalist moslems, and that two of them only turned to terrorism along with fundamentalist islam over the last year is only a coincidence.

The last representative of the moslem community is Zubair Butt Hussain (and no, Im not making up that name), the spokesperson for the organisation Muslimer i Dialog (Moslems in Dialogue). Source is DR, disclaimers as to translation and errors the same as before:

Lacking accept and lack of knowledge about islam often signifies those young people, who choose to become islamist extremists. One thing is certain, for sure - the oppinions of the youts is not a result of them having become more religious.

That is the general experience with the organisation Moslems in Dialogue, that meets the youths at debate meetings.

They find a new identity.

Spokesperson (cant translate his academic title) Zubair Butt Hussain thinks, that it is more a question of the youths having failed at getting recognition from the surounding society.

- Their oppinions is not a result of them having become mor religious, but more of them having found a new identity. They may have taken part in all social events with friends and classmates, but have still never felt really accepted, says Zubair ButtHussain.

Important not to push the youths away

That (accept - Henrik) is what they are getting with the religious extremist groups. But in reality, the youths according to Zubair Butt Hussain dont know much about islam.

- When they open their mouths, they pretty quickly make a mockery of themselves, because their identity as a moslem isnt solid, but more an identity that they take on to be accepted by a group, says Zubair Butt Hussain.

Wow. This Butt-guy really sounds reasonable, doesnt he? Well, consider one of those "debate meetings" his organisation organisation organizes to meet young moslems. Danish terror expert Lars Erslev Andersen was invited to join a debate with Yvonne Ridlay, a British journalist, islamic convert and terrorist apologist, and got away so shaken that he had to voice his dismay at the experience:

Debate without dialogue

Monday night the organisation "Moslems in Dialogue" had put out invitations to a dialogue on terrorism in the Queens Hall in The Black Diamond (The Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark - Henrik). Interest was high, and several hundred mostly young moslems turned up. For the occasion the hall, a public danish space, had been divided into rows reserved for women and other rows reserved for men. The scene was set.

The main name of the evening was the British yournalist Yvonne Ridley, who had been taken prisoner by the Taleban during the war in 2001. She was imprisoned for 10 days, was according to herself treated with respect, and then released. Two years later Ridley converted to Islam and became a strong opponent of the war on terror. So strong that she refuses to distance herself from terrorism.

The spokesman on foreign matters for the social democrats, Jeppe Kofod, was to debate Ridley, and two moderators were to lead the event, namely imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen (Danish convert to Islam) and DR2s (Danish state televisions) Clement Behrendt Kjersgaard.

I had let myself talk into joining the panel as a replacement for David Gress, though I decidedly dont feel at home in the role of debater. The reason I chose to join anyway was, that Id like to support the move to strengthen the dialogue between the moslem immigrant community and the rest of Denmark.

But there was no dialogue that night. Already a short way into Ridleys speech it became abundantly clear that she hadnt come to start a dialogue, but for the sole purpose to propagate a a preconceived ideology based on the tenet that everything evil in this world is the fault of the USA and Great Britain, and that terrorism is nothing but the result of western evilness, while moslems are just innocent victims. Her comparison of Tony Blair to Pol Pot speech volumes in this regard.


Jeppe Kofoed distanced himself from her views, but otherwise kindly tried to engage in a dialogy, but understandably became somewhat stonefaced when Ridley lectured him that his positive view of the newly held elections in Afghanistan and his negative view of the Taleban regime were merely a result of him being a victim of evil western propaganda.

Personally, I didnt believe my own ears when Ridley, asked by me if she didnt see it as a problem that islamists distribute videos of terrorists butchering hostages in Iraq for recruiting purposes, answered that it was necessary for moslems to have these videos at home as an alternative form of news to the propaganda of western media. To view these scenes of butchery as alternative and necessary news to me is evidence of a sick form of thinking, and the fact that the idea generated applause from the audience saddened me.

A Front

While Jeppe Kofod heroically tried to engage in dialogue, and I tried without much success to contribute a wee bit of matter-of-fact-ness, Jon Kaldan, who had received an award on the behalf of the team of reporters that made P1´s (national public radio) series "The Faces of Islam", showed the courage to clearly distance himself from Ridlays views, which he rightfully pointed out were destructive for the wished-for dialogue.

In the afternoon I had in the Prime Ministry been stenuously arguing in favor of the necessity of a dialogue between the moslem immigrant community and Danish society. I have to admit that monday evening I doubted the use of such a dialogue, if a person like Yvonne Ridley is viewed as a representative spokeswoman for organisations like "Moslems in Dialogue". If so, dialogue is just a front for outright propaganda.

I surely dont hope that is to be the norm for and level of a dialogue that I still think can be of use.

I have talked to Lars Erselv Andersen on a few occasions, and he always comes over as a very nice man with big baby-blue eyes, nice to the point of almost being an excuse for himself. But that evening apparently shocked him out of his nicety, if only long enough to write the above oppinion piece.

Anyway, it goes to show the dubbel-faced-ness of our local batch of moslem pundits.

Taqiyah in action.


More on the ongoing terror-probe in Denmark and Bosnia

As the investigation progresses, more and more people are brought in and interrogated. The original four men/boys (aged 16, 16, 17 and 20) arrested thursday were joined yesterday (friday) by two more. The two - a man and a woman - had actually turned up at the local police station at their own will, and were to be released after questioning.

During the questioning, however, it appeared that their ties to the case were rather stronger than originally suspected, so instead of being turned loose, they were arrested, and charged with conspiracy to plan a terrorist attack.

A wee bit more also emerged about the background of the original four arrestees: As it turns out, the two from the suburb of Brøndby (aged 16 and 20) were related - they were cousins - and they had grown up 300 meters apart in strictly religious Palestinian families. The neigbour to one of the pair has told about how he could always be sure, when he got home at hing, to see the lights on in their apartment, the father reading the Koran.

In Bosnia, the plot thickens also, as it has appeared that the originally mentioned two jihadis arrested there were actually part of a group of five, that had arrived in Bosnia only 3 weeks ago. The Bosnian police is now searching for the 3 men still on the run.

There is as of yet nothing on those three, though the fact that they arrived in a group with moslems from Denmark and Sweden would suggest that they also are from the region.


Rioting in Linköping, Sweden - parts of city sealed off

Sometimes you just wish, the police would stay out the way and let some people have at it (from The Local):

Around 100 people have been arrested after rioting broke out in Linköping during a neo-Nazi demonstration, police have said. One person was charged with intention to assault.

A large group of demonstrators from Anti Fascist Action (AFA) had also gathered in the town, 200 kilometres south of Stockholm, in response to the demonstration.

Riot police have been brought in from Stockholm and regular police from the neighbouring Sörmland and Jönköping counties. It was unclear at the time of writing whether police in Linköping would require further reinforcements.

At 1pm, a march which the National Socialist Front had permission to hold had not been able to start.

The neo-Nazis gathered in Borggården where the march was due to start."We have a large group of AFA activists 30-40 metres away from them, and we're trying to keep them apart," police spokeswoman Pia Thevselius told TT.

The neo-Nazis have permission to demonstrate, but AFA does not have authorisation.

The 100 or so activists that have been arrested were anti-fascist counter-demonstrators, Thevselius told news agency TT. They were taken by bus to Linköping's police headquarters.

Police in Linköping warned the general public to stay away from the town centre. .. At lunchtime on Saturday the situation was described as very tense.

"It is a very threatening situation now, and we're trying to control it," Thevselius told TT at 12.30. ..

Several streets in Linköping have been sealed off.

Maybe I should comment a bit on the background:

Sweden has for the last 70 years or so (with very short breaks) been ruled by the social democratic party, which has more or less merged with the establishment. Coupled with a somewhat authoritarian, moralistic and centralistic streak (Sweden is known as "Ban-Sweden" in Denmark), this has produced a climate in which all forms of actual rightwing dissent are subjected to merciless pressure - some schools even send home pupils wearing the swedish flag on their clothes, since its deemed "offensive".

Certain radical portions of the right have thus radicalized even further, producing a neo-nazi movement that is quite strong compared to the other countries in the region. At the same time, that has also meant that it has taken in some elements that would never end up as nazis in the rest of the world. An example: when three Swedish neo-nazis conducted a bank heist in May 1999, then ambushed and killed two policemen giving pursuit, one of the perpetrators turned out to be a mulatto - Jackie Arklöv:

Not your usual prime specimen of the arian übermensch. As an aside, Denmark has seen the same phenomenon - a nazi who in 1997 sent a series of letter bombs disguised as video cassettes to England turned out to be half japanese.

Anyway: the relative strength of the Swedish neo-nazis has its parallel on the other end of the political spectrum, where the radical left, thanks moral backing by the establishment, is also comparably strong for the region.

Thus the riots.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Pro-Israeli demonstration in Copenhagen

Two days ago, Iranian president Ahmadinejad continued the only tactic he knows to drum up support for him: piss off the rest of the world, then portray the reaction as an attack on Iran, so Iranians will close ranks. As a result, he called for the destruction of Israel.

The official Danish government reaction was somewhat weak:

The Iranian Ambassador to Denmark has been called to the Danish Foreign Ministry to receive an official protest from the government over the Iranian Presidents comments that Israel should be "wiped of the map".

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has called on the United Nations to expel Iran.

Prime Minster Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters that the ambassador would be asked to give an account of exactly what the President actually said.

However, he will not be asking for Iran's expulsion from the UN. Despite being difficult, it would not serve any purpose throwing a country out of the UN, the PM said, all communication and attempts to coerce Iran positively must be between the UN and Iran he added.

The popular response was sharper, and came in the form of a pro-Israeli demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy. It was somewhat hampered by near non-existant PR, so turnout was limited to between 150 and 200 people:

Pictures ©

"Iran ud af FN" means "Iran out of the UN", by the way.


Multiculturalism at work: one dead, one wounded, 8 arrested

From Jyllandsposten:

A Pakistani family has been arrested for planning and carrying out the murder of a 19-year-old woman last month. The girl had married without her family's consent Police have arrested six members of a Pakistani family for hunting down and killing a 19-year-old girl, who had married against the family's wishes.

Daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported that with two further arrests in the case, five men and one woman were now in remand for the suspected honour killing of Ghazala Abbas, who was shot to death in front of the central station in the western Zealand town of Slagelse on 23 September.

The day before, Abbas had married a 27-year-old Afghan-born man.

'We arrested two men from the deceased's family on Wednesday morning. The arrests were made in Copenhagen, and we can't rule out the possibility that there will be more arrests. We continue a massive investigation on the family, amongst others,' said Crime Inspector Flemming Madsen of the Slagelse Police.

Police said the investigation was hampered by the implicated persons' reluctance to talk, but that the last four arrests had led to a breakthrough in the investigation.

Five of the people arrested are Ghazala's close relatives, including her father and her older brother, who was the one that shot her to death and severely injured her husband in front of a large group of witnesses in broad daylight in Slagelse.

The couple was married the day before they were attacked, supposedly without the bride's family's consent.

Daily newspaper BT reported that a network of Pakistani taxi drivers and the woman arrested had helped the brother track his sister down.

The couple had fled from the family's home in Copenhagen's Amager district and gone into hiding in Jutland, there, they were married in secret at a city hall.

Ghazala, however, decided to trust the female relative with her secret, and called her to tell her the news. The woman betrayed her, BT reported, and told the family what she had done.

Pakistani taxi drivers told BT that Ghazala's brother had asked them to keep an eye out for his sister, and ordered everyone in the family and its circle of friends to tell him if they heard from her.

The network tracked the newlyweds down a few hours after their wedding.

A source said to BT's reporter that Ghazala had told her female relative that she had left her hiding place in Jutland and sought refuge with her friends in Slagelse.

'The friend must have known that if she passed the information on to Ghazala's family, she would help the honour killing being planned to take place,' the source said, adding that she must also have feared retribution if the word ever got out that she had known of the couple's whereabouts without telling the family.

Ghazala's brother was so intent on finding and killing his sister in order to save the family's honour that he left his wife and family only a few days after the birth of his second child to carry out the death sentence, BT reported.

Armed with the female relative's information, a confirmation from Pakistani taxi drivers, and a gun, he arrived at the central station to find his sister standing right outside, waiting for a taxi. He shot her three times, then attacked her husband, beat him, and forced him down on the ground, where he shot him.

The husband survived by a hair's breadth.

The newspaper said the liquidation of Ghazala Abbas demonstrated the enormous conspiracy and pressure immigrant women were faced with if they broke away from their families and tried to make independent choices in their lives.

Anne Mau, secretary of the National Association of Women's Crisis Centres, which accept many immigrant women on the run from their families, said the Pakistani taxi network worked systematically to find women who had fled their families, and alerted their whereabouts to their relatives.

'Taxi drivers are mobile, they now one another and the community, and they work systematically. The family uses a mobile telephone to send a picture around of the wanted woman. Then the hunting begins,' Mau said. 'This way many women have been discovered on the street, caught, and delivered back to their families.'

Nice people.


Islam vs freedom of speech: Moslem ambassadors are turned down

From the Copenhagen Post:

Eleven Muslim ambassadors in Denmark looking to meet with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to discuss what they call a 'smear campaign' in the media against Islam and Muslims have had their request denied.

The prime minister had otherwise been encouraged by the opposition to meet with the group as a way to increase understanding in an increasingly controversial public debate.

In recent weeks, both the minister of culture and a Copenhagen mayoral candidate have retracted statements they made about Muslims and Islamic culture.

Most recently, national daily Jyllands-Posten has invoked international ire by publishing twelve caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, some of which characterised him as a terrorist.

Pictorial depictions of Mohammed are frowned upon by Islam.

'This is a matter of principle. I won't meet with them because it is so crystal clear what principles Danish democracy is built upon that there is no reason to do so,' said Rasmussen.

Rasmussen reiterated his message that individuals who felt offended by the tone of the public debate should bring their grievances to the courts.

'As prime minister, I have no power whatsoever to limit the press - nor do I want such a power,' he said. 'It is a basic principle of our democracy that a prime minister cannot control the press.'

Rasmussen said that though he preferred a positive debate in the press, as long as people kept their comments with in the boundaries of the law, the motives behind the comments were not an issue.

'Some people say that the press needs to be constructive, and sometimes I also think that'd be nice. But who's to say what's constructive? That's an unfair demand to make. The press needs to be critical - I need to bear that as prime minister and religions must do so as well,' he said.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Four suspected suicide bombers arrested in Copenhagen

From Jyllandsposten (the translation from Danish is mine, as are all mistakes in it):

Four young men between 16 and 20 years of age were taken into custody yesterday in Brøndby (suburb of Copenhagen - Henrik), charged with planning terrorism. The preliminary examination was conducted behind doubly closed doors, but police chief Jørn Bro, Glostrup Police said in a press briefing just before midnight, that the police chose to strike yesterday, since it didnt want to risk that the young men realised their plans.

Glostrup Police and Police Intelligence has been working determinedly since a large weapons find in the Balkans on 19. October, where those arrested in connection with it were found to have connections to Denmark. Yesterday morning, the police struck at addresses in Brøndby, Copenhagen and Frederiksberg, arresting 25 persons. The police were only going for the four young men, though, so the other 21 were released during the day.

"The four youths have been charged with preparing a terrorist attack somewhere in Europe. There have been found explosives, weapons and sniper weapons in the Balkans, that were about to be moved. That has led us to the four young men, who now have been arrested", Jørgen Bro said.

Private dwellings searched

Tonight he wouldnt specify, where in Europe the terrorist attack was to take place, but he didnt want to deny that the goal was in Denmark. In connection with the raids on the addresses in Greater Copenhagen materials were found linking the four youths to preparations for the terrorist attack, and a large amoung of money in the range of 200.000 crowns (about 30.000$ - Henrik) was found, along with technical aids and a large amount of extremist islamic material. It includes phone numbers, address books and other things.

In the press briefing, Jørn Bro hinted at there being a suspicion, that the four youths were to act as suicide bombers, but said that a thoroughgoing investigation now will look into the matter.

The four young men are all of middle-eastern descent, but have grown up in denmark. Three of them live with their parents, while the fourth recently moved into his own place. Only one of them is a Danish citizen.

Have become extremely religious.

"It is not the types that normally call the attention of the police to themselves. We are talking about four young, inward-looking men, who are very tied up in their religious lives. You can see it in their lifestyle, their dress and their movement around the mosques of Copenhagen," said Jørn Bro.

At least to of the youths have only become extremely religious inside the last year, to the amazement of their families. They are of what the police terms mostly secular families, so it has brought some anxiety to the families, that they embraced islam so violently.

The view of the police is, that the terrorist attack was to take place in very short time. The police amongst others bases this upon the preparations that had already been made to move the weapons from the Balkans to a so far unknown place in Europe.

The people arrested in the Balkans have connections both to those arrested, to Denmark and to the rest of Scandinavia. Out of regard to the country´s intelligence service, the police did not wish to disclose where in the Balkans the weapons find has been made.

Massively guarded by police

Jørn Bro, who has a past as leader of Police Intelligence, called the material the police had amassed considerable, and of a kind that has reinforced the suspicion against the arrestees.

"As things are now, we cant rule out that more arrests will be made," Jørn Bro says. The courthouse in Brøndby was massively guarded by police during the six-hour preliminary examination, and when the terror suspects were driven away in civilian patrol cars, they had their faces covered by jackets over their heads. ...

The police at the same time revealed, that investigation is going in in several european countries, and that the four arrestees have travelled abroad several times, but wouldnt say what the destinations of those journeys were.

It is the first time in denmark, that so serious charges have been raised under the new terrorism law. So far, the Al Aqsa society is nearing a charge for collecting money for terrorist groups, while the islamist Said Mansour currently is in custody for inciting to terrorism.


Reuters picked up the story now, adding a few details:

Danish police said they had arrested four Muslim men on Thursday under an anti-terrorism law after a tip-off from a Balkan country that they were involved in planning a terrorist attack.

The police did not identify the Balkan nation but said the tip-off followed the arrest of two people in that country for possession of explosives and weapons.

"We have arrested four Muslim men aged between 16 and 20 years for co-operation in an attempted act of terror," Detective Chief Superintendent Sten Skovgaard told Reuters.

"We believe we can prove a connection between the two people in the Balkan country and the four men in Denmark and have reasons to believe that they were about to plan a terror attack some place in Europe," Skovgaard said.

He said the possible attack could have been aimed at Denmark, which has more than 500 troops serving with U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

A judge ruled the four men should stay in custody until November 16. One of the four is a Danish citizen.


From CNN, more on the Balkans end of the plot:

Danish media quoted Bro as saying that the arrests in Copenhagen were linked to an investigation in the Balkans in which arrests were made and large quantities of explosives were found on October 19.

He did not specify where the Balkan investigation took place but Bosnian police last week arrested three people in Sarajevo on suspicion of preparing terrorist activities.

Police said they found explosives, firearms and other military equipment in connection with those arrests on October 19-20.

According to Sarajevo's Dnevni Avaz daily newspaper, one of the three suspects was an 18-year-old who was preparing a suicide bomb attack on the Sarajevo embassy of an European Union country.

4 suicide bombers against targets in Denmark and one against the Danish embassy in Bosnia, perhaps?


Even more on the Balkans end of the plot, this time from - of all sources - Pravda:

Police have arrested three people in Bosnian city Sarajevo suspected of terrorist activities, police said Friday.

"A Turkish, Swedish and a Bosnian national were apprehended over suspicion that they were preparing terrorist activities. We searched two facilities and found a certain amount of explosives, firearms and other military equipment," police spokesman Robert Cvrtak said.

The group was apprehended on Wednesday and Thursday. Two of the three have been handed over to the prosecutor's office, and the third one will be handed over later, Cvrtak said and refused to give further details.

Sarajevo's Dnevni Avaz daily newspaper quoted unnamed police officials as saying that one of the suspects is an 18-year-old who was preparing a suicide bomb attack on the Sarajevo embassy of an European Union country. The report did not specify which country. The man is a Bosnian national the explosives were found and in his apartment, the newspaper said.

The Swedish national would explain the ties to Scandinavia.


Leftwing radicals march in Copenhagen

Picture ©

A bit of background: In 1982, leftwing radical youths got a free space in the form of the so-called "Youth House" that was put at their disposal by Copenhagen Municipality. Over the years, the house was raided multiple times, with molotov cocktails, baseball bats and other weaponry being taken away along with soft drugt en masse. By 1999, Copenhagen Municipality had tired of it all, and sold the house into private hands, where it eventually ended up with the fundamentalist christian sect Faderhuset ("The House of the Father").

Problem was, that the radicals didnt really care, stayed in the house, and launched lawsuits to have the sale declared void. The court ruled that the house was legally the property of Faderhuset, but multiple appeals followed, and the case restarted at the end of October. For that reason, the radicals thought they would conduct a demonstration - legal niceties dont count, violence does. A quote from the underground publication Ilde Hørt! ("Unwelcome News!"):

What we can say with certainty is that there will be a media-storm around the lawsuit, and because of that it is improtant to show, that we arent just 25 black-clad, sub-cultural youths, but a broad movement. Not to forget that we have also said fire, flames and broken glas.. .For that reason, we of course think that everybody should turn up in Copenhagen around the time of the case and stay for a couple days... So polish your iron rod, fasten your slingshot, wash your gloves, iron your elephant cap and raise your voice: Fingers off - its our Youth House

The following is how it progressed according to left-leaning paper Politiken (link only in Danish):

At least three persons were arrested for wearing masks (there is a ban on wearing masks during demonstrations - Henrik), when a demonstration in favor of the Youth House on Nørrebro in Copenhagen this evening passed Christiansborg (parliament). ...

The police tried penetrating the demonstration to get a hold on several masked demonstrators, but the youths held together in chains and had reinforced the flanks of the demonstration with ladders to hold off police.

Later on, the demonstration consisting of a couple hundred youths wound their way past Rådhuspladsen (a square at the center of town), with the police keeping a close watch.

Picture courtesy of Steen r.:


Friday, October 21, 2005

Press freedom in Scandinavia

Reporters Without Borders has released their annual report on freedom of the press in the world. As usual, Scandinavian countries are hogging the no. 1 spot in RWBs ranking:

At the top of the Index once again are northern European countries Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands, where robust press freedom is firmly established.

The only country not in the shared no. 1 place is Sweden-stan. Germany is in 18th place, France in 30th. The US has, based on the imprisonment of NJT reporter Judith Miller, slipped 20 places.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Norwegian politician confronts Islam - Islamic ambassadors protest

A thing I should mention before I even start on this post: in Scandinavia, especially between Denmark, Norway and Sweden, we have a continuous "brotherly competition" going on on pretty much everything.

That said, chairman of the Norwegian rightwing Progress Party has become an object of attention much like the newspaper Jyllandsposten has in Denmark. Five moslem ambassadors have authored a letter accusing Hagen of "having insulted 1,3 billion moslems and violated the principles of tolerance and freedom that Norwegian society is built upon". The expressions Hagen is condemned for uttering in a speech to the christian group "The Living Word" are the following (the story thanks to Danske øjne på svenske forhold, from Aftenposten, in my translation from the Norwegian):

"They are well on their way, they have come far in Africa, and are well on their way in Europe - and thus we have to speak up"

"If we passively - and actively when it comes to certain politicians on the left wing - in silence accept that terrorism gains ground and Israel wins the one and last war, then there isnt much hope left for Europe, either. That is why Israel has to be defended"

"We Christians are very fond of children. Let the small children come to me, Jesus said. I cannot imagine that Muhammed said the same thing. If so, he would have said: Let the small children come to me, so I can exploit them in my war to islamicize the world"

"I cant see any resemblance with the morals and the justice found in Christianity"

The article goes on to recount the content of the letter the moslem ambassadors wrote in response:

- Neither is islam a religion that encourages militarism and extremism, the letter, that also condemn all forms of terrorism, says.

At the same time, they write that it is necessary to meet the conditions that create hopelesness and despair, "so we already now can stop the use of extraordinary measures to seek satisfaction.", as the ambassadors write.

I other words: do as we say, or you will be subjected to "extraordinary measures".

The usual suspects in any PC political environment of course condemn Hagen for his outspokenness, but the extraordinary thing is that he actually also gets some support from people outside his own party. Especially elements in the Christian Peoples´ Party have supported Hagen, uttering disgust with their own party´s lack of support for Israel.

And the "Brotherly competition" I mentioned at the start? Well, the letter to Hagen was only signed by five islamic ambassadors. The letter to Danish PM Fogh over the paper Jyllandspostens 11 drawings of Mohammed was signed by ten. So there.

Denmark 10, Norway 5 :-)


Denmark gets its own "Father Sheehan"

A couple days ago, a group of 24 more or less extreme leftists chose to start a law suit against PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen over the decision to join in the liberation of Iraq in 2003. This came after Denmark had suffered its first KIA when Bjarne Olsen Kirkmand was killed by an IED in Iraq on October 1st.

Bjarne Kirkmands fater left no doubt about his disagreement with his sons choice to volunteer for the army and go to Iraq to free the Iraqi people. Indeed it took him little more than a week after burying his son before he chose to dishonour his sacrifice by joining in the lawsuit (Ohmynews):

A lawsuit against Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen over the nation going to war with Iraq -- in which the father of a dead soldier has now joined -- has attracted significant public interest, legal experts say.

The plaintiffs, a group of Danes, are arguing in the High Court that the Danish government's decision to go to war in Iraq was unconstitutional. The plaintiffs claim the government violated Article 19 of the Danish Constitution, which authorizes the state only to engage in an act of war to defend itself against a foreign aggressor, or when there is a United Nations mandate.

"Denmark had not been attacked in 2003 and none of its NATO allies had been either," said Bjørn Elmquist, one of the two lawyers on the case.

The plaintiffs include lawyers, professors, doctors, union leaders and politicians, and a man who traveled to Iraq as a so-called "bomb shield" back before the invasion was launched.

Denmark is represented in Iraq with more than 500 soldiers who work under British command.

A poll published in August showed that 47.9 percent of Danes want Denmark to pull out of Iraq, while 38.6 percent were in favor of remaining.

Several lawyers believed the High Court would dismiss the case due to the plaintiff's lack of legal interest.

The legal interest is now added due to the involvement of a father whose 21-year-old son was killed in Iraq a month ago by a roadside bomb. He had only been in Iraq for about one month when he was killed.

This significant development was reported by the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet under the headline "Killed soldier's father in war against Fogh."

"I have spoken with a member of the committee -- I called them myself -- and told them that if I can help in any way, I am available," the father told Ekstra Bladet.

Dane among foreign fighters captured in Iraq

The question of whether Danes are among the foreign fighters captured in Iraq gets murkier and murkier. On the 10th, Iraq foreign minister Bayan Jabr was qoted as saying that one man with a Danish passport was among the foreign fighters detained by Coalition forces. Danish authorities were somewhat perplexed since they hadnt been oriented, and today the Danish embassy in Baghdad was happy to report that the whole story was due to mis-reporting by the journalist interviewing Jabr.

Now another sources comes forward to bring the story back to life again, though. From Reuters:
"Terrorists and foreign fighters" were responsible for some of the worst insurgent attacks, such as suicide car bombings, Lynch said. But he said U.S.-led forces had foiled several attacks by arresting or killing many of them in recent months.

He told a news briefing 376 foreign fighters had been captured this year, of whom 311 were detained since the start of April. No comparable figures for the total number of guerrilla suspects captured were available, although some 12,000 are currently held in jail, most of those Iraqis.

The countries of origin most represented were Egypt (78), Syria (66), Sudan (41) and Saudi Arabia (32). The list included several other Middle Eastern countries and a number of European states such as France (1) and Denmark (1) as well as two Indians and an American.

That is the one who got caught, but there have been others who were killed, and some have already returned after fighting in Iraq. The most notorious of the ones killed was Mustapha Darwich Ramadan (hat tim: Filtrat):

When robbers stole more than $300,000 from an armored car here in 1997, investigators were taken aback by the size and brazenness of the heist. But they really became alarmed when they discovered that one of the culprits had been under surveillance as a suspected Islamic extremist.

That man, Mustapha Darwich Ramadan, was arrested shortly before he planned to flee Copenhagen on a flight to Amman, Jordan, police said. He was convicted of robbery and served 3 1/2 years in prison. After his release in June 2001, Copenhagen police said, he struck again, robbing a money-transfer store of about $15,000. This time, he escaped to either Jordan or Lebanon, police said.

Since then, according to European intelligence officials, Ramadan has surfaced in Iraq as a leader of Ansar al-Islam, a radical group that U.S. officials say has carried out at least 40 suicide bombings and other attacks resulting in more than 1,000 deaths in the war-ravaged country.
Officials say Ansar also operates an extensive underground network that recruits young Muslims across Europe to join the insurgency in Iraq. Intelligence estimates of the numbers sent from Europe by Ansar and other groups vary from 100 to more than 3,000, but there is general agreement that the flow is increasing. ...

Since moving to Iraq, Ramadan has operated under the name Abu Mohammed Lubnani, or father of Mohammed the Lebanese, European intelligence officials believe. A Web site run by Islamic radicals reported recently that he had been killed, but the claim has drawn skepticism here on grounds it may be disinformation.

Lubnani, a 40-year-old former Lebanese military officer, developed contacts across Europe during his 14-year stay in Denmark. His story is emblematic of how Ansar, once a small Kurdish group focused solely on local conflicts in northern Iraq, has been able to broaden its mission, casting itself as an international force in Islamic radicalism and expanding into Europe.

Lubnani was said to have been killed by a US Apache-helicopter in Fallujah with his 15-year-old son, whom he had brought along with him to wage Jihad.


Danish force in Iraq has cost almost 1bn crowns

From Forbes:

Danish defence minister Soeren Gade told the parliamentary defence committee that Denmark's troop deployment in Iraq over the past two and a half years has cost 967 mln dkr up to September 13.

But the figure only covers charges linked to the deployment, such as logistics, running the contingent's camp and equipment, and does not take basic salaries of the soldiers into account, committee member Per Kaalund of the opposition Social Democrats said.

Since June 2003 Denmark has had 530 troops in Iraq, mainly stationed near Basra in the south of the country under British command.

Holy war against newspaper

From Jyllandsposten:

Internet collages threatening Denmark and daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten with death and retribution have begun circulating on the internet after the newspaper published caricatures of Muslim prophet Mohammed Bombs exploding over pictures of Danish daily Jyllands-Posten and blood flowing over the national flag and a map of Denmark are among the images circulating on the internet after the newspaper printed twelve cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed last month.

Daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende reported that the internet collages, posted in the name of an unknown organisation calling itself 'The Glory Brigades in Northern Europe', showed pictures of various tourist attractions in Denmark and stated that 'The Mujahedeen have numerous targets in Denmark - very soon you all will regret this', amongst other things.

Another picture showed soldiers, armed with bombs, over a map of Denmark, with blood spattered over parts of the country.

The front page of Jyllands-Posten featured prominently on many of the four collages. The newspaper has been criticised by Muslims for printing the cartoons, and was forced to hire security guards after receiving hate mail and death threats over the telephone.

The newspaper asked illustrators to make the cartoons after reports that artists were reluctant to illustrate a book on Mohammed for fear of Muslim retribution. The daily's editors said the cartoons were a test of whether the threat of Islamic terrorism had limited the freedom of expression in Denmark.

The Glory Brigades have similarities with another internet group calling itself 'Al-Queda's Chapter in Northern Europe', which has also posted threats against Northern European countries and praised the London bombings in July.

Though a single individual, or a small group of people, may turn out to be responsible for the internet threats, terrorism researcher Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen from the Danish Institute of International Studies warned against not taking the propaganda seriously. She said Al-Queda and its sympathisers had taken the internet into their service.

'We know that the internet is used both for propaganda and for actual terrorism instructions. It makes it more difficult for intelligence agencies to identify potential terrorists, because the internet reduces their need for physically passing through country's borders in the recruitment and training process,' she said.

Dalgaard-Nielsen pointed out, however, that the text on the website looked homemade. The language was more direct and less florid with Koran quotes than the original Al-Queda organisation preferred in their messages.

Fourteen days ago, sources in the Italian intelligence service warned that a Moroccan group with a connection to the al-Queda network had members in Scandinavia.

Søren Hove, terrorism researcher at the Odense University, said the message displayed in the collages was so threatening that it should be investigated by the police. On the other hand, he said, such anonymous threats should be taken with a grain of salt.

'We shouldn't allow this to upset us,' he said. 'Anyone with a minimal knowledge of computers and photoshop can create such internet collages just to raise hell. My guess is that it was someone who lives here, who is angry with Jyllands-Posten, which doesn't mean he has the desire or resources to carry the threats out.'


Two of the collages mentioned in the above article, with thanks to Polemiken:

Moslem ambassadors whine about pictures

From the BBC:

The ambassadors of 10 Muslim countries have complained to the Danish prime minister about a major newspaper's cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

A letter from the ambassadors said the cartoons published in Jyllands-Posten last month showed the Prophet as a stereotypical fundamentalist.

Advocating assassinations of critis, ethnic cleansing and holy wars as a policy would tend to put you in that category.

Pictorial depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are forbidden in Islam.

Not in Denmark, though.

A Danish government spokesman said Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen was preparing a response.

Danish Muslim community leaders who held talks with Mr Rasmussen in July complained about press coverage of Islam.

At the time, he said he could not tell newspapers what to print - or what not to.

On Thursday, the Jyllands-Posten reported that two illustrators who produced the cartoons had received death threats.


The daily published the series of cartoons, after a writer complained that nobody dared illustrate his book about Muhammad.

"We must quietly point out here that the drawings illustrated an article on the self-censorship which rules large parts of the Western world", the paper said.

"Our right to say, write, photograph and draw what we want to within the framework of the law exists and must endure - unconditionally!"

The ambassadors who signed the letter to the prime minister included a number of Arab countries, Pakistan, Iran, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Indonesia.

"We hope there will be understanding of Muslims' feelings about Mohammad. And we hope there will be an apology from Jyllands-Posten," Mascud Effendy Hutasuhut, counsellor at the Indonesian embassy in Denmark, told Danmarks radio.

Something tells me, they will be waiting for quite some time.


Immigrants vastly over-represented in crime statistics

From Jyllandsposten:

Danes with immigrant backgrounds are five times more likely to commit crimes than ethnic Danes, a new report reveals. The justice minister promises to bring down immigrant criminality Having a non-Danish background means you are much more likely to commit a crime, a new report from the Ministry of Justice reveals.

Last year, the police pressed charges against five times as many second-generation immigrants than ethnic Danes, when measured by 1000 people in each population group. First-generation immigrants committed twice as many crimes as Danes did.

The five-fold overrepresentation of 2nd-generation immigrants is to a degree explained by 2nd generation immigrants on the average being younger than the 1st-generation immigrants.

It also has to be mentioned, that the statistisc are on charges, not convictions.


Saturday, October 15, 2005


In my last post, I mentioned that flags are flying everywhere here in Denmark. While were still starting this blog, we might put in a post about that flag, too:

Dannebrog (The Danish Cloth) is the oldest national flag in the world, according to legend falling from the skies during the Battle of Lyndanisse in Estonia in 1219 AD. The battle took place where the Estonian capital Talinn (the name means "The City of Danes") lies today, and was fought between heathen Estonians and a crusading army under Danish King Valdemar the Victorious. The battle was actually heading for defeat of the Danish(-German-Slav) army until the flag fell from the skies.

Dannebrog spawned a Scandinavian fondness of flags that include the so-called Scandinavian cross - Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland have all adopted flags including it, as have autonomous regions like the Faeroe and Åland Islands. There are also proposals for Estonia getting a flag along the same lines, and the British Shetland and Orkney Islands (Scandinavian until the 1200s and 1400s, respectively, and Norwegian-speaking into the 1800s) have local flags along the same lines. On a more curious note, the west-Canadian separatists use flag on the same pattern.

Another small detail: supposedly, Dannebrog is one of only three flags that have a name - Great Britan´s Union Jack and the USA´s Old Glory are the other two.


While I´m at ie, the US also has a city, founded by Danish immigrants, called Dannebrog. Their site is here.


A king is born

HRH Princess Mary today gave birth to a healthy boy, who eventually will be King of Denmark when his grandmother and father have passed away:

Denmark's Crown Princess Mary gave birth early Saturday to a boy who is second in line to the throne of Europe's oldest reigning monarchy, the royal palace said.

Australian-born Mary gave birth to the boy at Copenhagen University Hospital, two weeks before her due date, the palace said. Both mother and child were doing fine, it said.
The boy was 20 inches (50.8 cm) and weighed 7.7 pounds (3.4 kg), Per Thornit, head of Crown Prince Frederik's court said in the statement.

His name is likely to be Christian. Since Christian II, who died in 1559, Danish kings have alternately carried the name Christian or Frederik.

Mary Donaldson, 33, who was born in Hobart, on the island of Tasmania, married Crown Prince Frederik, Queen Margrethe's eldest son, in May 2004.

The couple met in a bar during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Frederik, 37, is next in line to the throne.

In line with a Danish tradition to mark a royal birth, 21 gun shots will be fired at noon Saturday from batteries in Copenhagen and from the Kronborg Castle, north of Copenhagen.

In the evening, the Danish Home Guard will light hundreds of bonfires across the country.

Flags are flying everywhere.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Veiled threats - A bit more on imam Hlayhel

Having mentioned the death threats against Jyllandsposten, and imam Hlayhels "outrage" against the portrayal of the alleged prophet, consider his initial, only slightly veiled threats (Sorry, not available online other than as a quotation in danish in this oppinion piece):

Jyllands-Posten has acted stupidly. It is not that we are threatening anybody, but when you have seen, what happened in the Netherlands, and then still print the drawings, its a quite stupid act

"Im not threatening anybody, but you will be killed like van Gogh if you dont stop" could be a translation.


Freedom of speech vs Islam

The following story is slowly making it into world news, but deserves mentioning nevertheless:

A Muslim cleric in Århus demands that daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten apologises for publishing cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed.

Daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten is facing accusations that it deliberately provoked and insulted Muslims by publishing twelve cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed.

The newspaper urged cartoonists to send in drawings of the prophet, after an author complained that nobody dared to illustrate his book on Mohammed. The author claimed that illustrators feared that extremist Muslims would find it sacrilegious to break the Islamic ban on depicting Mohammed.

How an islamic ban is supposed to have any impact on the 97% of the Danish population that arent moslems isnt explained. But there is more:

Twelve illustrators heeded the newspaper's call, and sent in cartoons of the prophet, which were published in the newspaper one week ago.

Daily newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad said one Muslim, at least, had taken offence.

'This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims,' Imam Raed Hlayhel wrote in a statement.

'Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world. We demand an apology!'

Jyllands-Posten described the cartoons as a defence for 'secular democracy and right to expression'. ...

Flemming Rose, cultural editor at the newspaper, denied that the purpose had been to provoke Muslim. It was simply a reaction to the rising number of situations where artists and writers censured themselves out of fear of radical Islamists, he said.

'Religious feelings cannot demand special treatment in a secular society,' he added. 'In a democracy one must from time to time accept criticism or becoming a laughingstock.'

It is not the first time Hlayhel has created headlines in Denmark. One year ago, he became the target of criticism from Muslims and non-Muslims alike, when he said in a sermon during Friday prayer, that Danish women's behaviour and dress invited rape.

Make that "that Danish women had it coming when they were raped".

The stand Jyllandsposten is making has to be commended, but it remains to be seen whether it will eventually give in. Today the paper had to call in security guards after its employees received death threats:

Death threats have forced daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten to hire security guards to protect its employees, after printing twelve cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed. ...

'We have taken a few necessary measures in the situation, as some people seem to have taken offence and are sending threats of different kinds,' the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Carsten Juste, told national broadcaster DR.

The same day as the newspaper published the cartoons, it received a threatening telephone call against 'one of the twelve illustrators', as the caller said. Shortly afterwards, police arrested a 17-year-old, who admitted to phoning in the threat.

Since then, journalists and editors alike have received threats by email and the telephone. The newspaper told its staff to remain alert, but then decided to hire security guards to protect its Copenhagen office.

'Up until now, we have only had receptionists in the lobby. But we don't feel that they should sit down there by themselves, so we posted a guard there as well,' Juste said.

The funny thing is, that reality gains more and more resemblance to the carricatures. Here is one of them:


Short rundown of Danish parties.

Ah, hell. The last post was probably a bit too long, so here comes the quick rundown of how Danish parties stand:

Unity List: Communists, with all that entails.

Socialist People´s Party: Ex-communists mixed with humanist an environmental fundamentalism. IE, reality doesnt matter, ideology does.

Social Democrats: Social Democrats. Democratic socialists with a tinge of sanity. The left wing is beyond salvage, though.

Radicals: The self-proclaimed center party. Fundamentalist humanists that are essentially balancing two groups of voters off against each others: urban intellectuals (the Café Latté bunch) and moslem immigrants. When one of their constituencies finds out about the preferences of the other, the party is in for a world of hurt. Recent soundings about a more classical liberal policy (tax and welfare reform) is taking them in that direction.

Left/Liberals - Denmarks Liberal Party: Social Liberals. They still have an economically liberal wing that is complaining a great deal about the party´s move to the left. An actual liberal party is under formation as an alternative. We will see if it manages to draw strength from disaffected elements in the party.

Conservatives: Socially responsible conservatives. Pro-business, too. For a couple years the only party that has been for reform of the welfare and tax systems. They have a strong urge to be the big party in the middle, though, that is not going to do them any good if they follow it.

Danish People´s Party: Rightwing Social Democrats in all but name. That is also where they have a lot of their voters from. Add in a somewhat more anti-immigration stance, though.

Though they arent represented in parliament (they got 0,3% of the vote the last time around), I should probably mention the Minority Party, too. They are fundamentalist humanists, mixed with a good deal of fundamentalist moslems, too.


Danish politics

Given that we will be commenting a great deal on Danish politics, Ive thought it opportune to throw in a bit of background on our political systems and the parties that inhabit it.

First, a small bit about parliament:

Denmark was an absolute monarchy until 1849, when the first democratically elected parliament gathered. Experimenst with democracy on a local scale had started in the 1830s, but it took the upheaval of the 1848 revolutions to bring it up on a national scale.

For the first 100 years as a democracy, Denmark had a two-chamber parliament much like Germany, the US or Great Britain. The constitution didnt consider parties, and it took a few decades for parties to form along the lines as we know today, comparably stable and well-defined groups of people with somewhat shared views.

During the last 3 decades of the 1800s, the conservative party Højre (literally "Right") became locked in battle with the liberal party Venstre (litterally "Left") and, seeing its majority in the lower chamber steadly dwindling, resorted to using its majority in the upper chamber and the support it received from the conservative king to block Venstre power and govern by decree much of the time.

When Right representation had dwindled to 8 members in the 114-member lower chamber, the king finally gave in and backed a Left government in 1901 (rumor has it the reason was that Venstre was blocking any attempts at paying a dowry for two of his granddaughters unless they were handed power). This also entailed the institution of parliamentarism (that you cant govern against a majority in parliament) as a guiding principle, and by the revision of the Danish constitution in 1915 the virtual neutering of the upper chamber. It languished for another four decades before being abolished in the 1950s.

The chamber left, Folketinget - "The People´s Assembly" - today consists of 175 members elected in Denmark proper and two each elected in the north Atlantic possessions of Greenland and the Faeroe Islands. The latter four members represent their own Greenland-only and Faeroe-only parties, some of whom are pro-independence, and they seldomly, due to their small numbers, have any real impact. The exception to the rule is the 1998-election, when it was 300 votes cast on the Faeroes that provided the last MP needed for the incumbent Social Democrat/Radical government to continue.

The MPs themselves today are apportioned to the various parties proportionally according to the number of votes they get. As a consequence, the Folketing is always populated by a plethora of different parties, in the last couple decades ranging in number between 7 and 11. After the last election in February, the number came down to 7 with the failure of the Christian Democrats in convincing the electorate that they were not inconsequential vote-waste.

The development of the party systems (leaving out small, short-lived parties) looks like this:
The original constitution of Denmark didnt consider the possibility of parties, only elected individuals, and they (parties) only began developing under the impression of the struggle between conservatives and liberals in the latter part of the 1800s. The conservatives quickly formed into the party Right (Højre), while the liberals coagulated into a plethora of groups under the general heading "Left" (Venstre).

With the formation of a Social Democratic party from the 1870s, the stock parties of Danish politics were there. It also began the steady formation of more and more parties to the left of the party Left, that would prove the partys name wrong several times over.

Fragmentation started in 1905, when smallholders and urban intellectuals split off from Venstre to form Det Radikale Venstre (Radical Left, or just Radicals). Next came the Communists, who split off from the Social Democrats following WWI. Disregarding numerous smaller, primarily rightwing, parties that have since gone out of existence, it continued like this until 1958, when the Communists began their history of splits, and the result was the Socialist People´s Party.

Officially, it was the "democratic" elements that split off after the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, but given the 2-year lag, and the fact that it was the very same people who had witnessed Stalins purges without complaining that now suddenly professed to be virtual innocents, this can be safely discounted

The Watershed-election in 1973 (so named because new parties received almost a third of the number of MPs) produced the Progress party that, after shedding its (economically) ultra-liberal elements in the 1990s evolved into the Danish Peoples Party - essentially social democrats with an anti-immigration agenda.

Otherwise, the Communists dissolved into a plethora of smaller parties, that didnt come together until after the collapse of the Soviet Block, calling their new creation the Unity List. Up through the 90s, they have then mostly disbanded, making the List into a party in itself.

With the loss of representation of some other products of the Watershed-election (the Center Democrats and Christian Democrats), the number of parties represented in parliament (again discounting the 4 northern Atlantic members) fell to its current 7. They are thefollowing, ranged as they normally are from left to right in the political spectrum:

Unity ListSocialist People´s Party ("SF" after its Danish abbreviation)
Social Democats
Radical Left ("The Radicals)
Conservative People´s Party ("The Conservatives")
Left - Denmark´s Liberal Party ("Left")
Danish People´s Party

The sequence is deceiving, though: The Conservatives and Liberals have formed the government since 2001, and to retain power the Liberals have moved more and more to the left, taking much of the Social Democrats´ positions on especially welfare policy. At the same time, the Danish People´s Party has finished the process it started in the 90s to transform itself from an ultra-liberalist party into, essentially, the Social Democrats with an anti-immigration agenda. To guard against a flight of its voters to the Danish People´s Party, the Social Democrats have themselves moved right, taking on some of the anti-ammigration stance of that party.

To compensate a bit for this rush to the centre, the Conservatives have tried to pair their pro-welfare policy with pro-business stances, while the fundamentalist humanist Radicals have moved to the right economically.

The result of all this, however, is that all the choice one has amongthese seven parties is between two radical left-parties (Unity List and Socialist People´s Party) and five different shades of socialdemocracy.

Right now, that works out fine, but the problem is that while everybody knows that reforms are needed to ward off eventual collapse of the welfare state due to the rising number of the elderly, nobody dares to actually do much about it. In the 1998 election, Social Democratic allegations that the rightwing parties wanted to raise rent limits lost the rightwing parties the elections, and in the 2001 election, the reform of pre-retirement pensions that the Social Democrats pulled through was widely seen as having cost them the election.

So, as you can see, the Danish political system is somewhat of a mess. As the saying went about the parties in the People´s Assemby in the late 90s:
- The Unity List is not one, but three parties
- The Socialist People´s Party has nothing to do with the people
- The Radicals are the most moderate
- The Christian People´s Party is recruiting moslems
- The party Left is actually rightwing
- The Conservatives are the most pro-change, and
- The Progress has been nothing but re-gressing since its foundation

Welcome to our world.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Welcome on board!

This is the new blog on scandinavian issues. Not just the usual lefty mainstream media stuff, more like an attempt to tell the kind of news that they won't tell you.