Northern Light

Danish politician acquitted of defamation against Muslims

Today the leader of the Danish People’s Party, Pia Kjaersgaard, was acquitted of defamation in a case initiated by the Islamic Society of Denmark, a salafist organization with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamic Society took the matter to court after Kjaersgaard in January 2006 in a newsletter called a group of Danish imams ”traitors”. Her comments followed the news of the imams travelling to the Middle East to provoke a boycott of Danish products and turn public opinion against Denmark and the newspaper Jyllands-Posten that in September 2005 published 12 cartoons of the prophet Mohammed as a reaction to widening selfcensorship in Western Europe.
”The verdict was expected,” Kjaersgaard said of the acquittal.
”I am relieved. It was stressful to be involved in this court case. I have spent a lot of time preparing the case with my lawyer. As a politician I have a right and an obligation to express my views, and that’s what I did in this matter. I am convinced that a lot of Danes shared my point of view back in those dramatic winterdays of 2006.”
Kasem Ahmad, spokesman for the Islamic Society, was disappointed with the acquittal. He said he would consider an appeal and criticised the court for having condoned an indirect death threat against Muslims.
”Traitors were killed in Denmark after the Second World War, so by using that word Pia Kjaersgaard indirectly justified violence against us,” he said.
The judge explained the acquittal by referring to Kjaersgaard’s use of the word ”traitors” as a general judgement about an issue being subject to debate in society, not as a specific term used to characterize a person committing treason against his country.
Danish politicians also took issue with yesterdays call by the Islamic Society for a fatwa against Jyllands-Posten.
Per Stig Møller, minister of foreign affairs, criticised Islamic Society for not accepting the rule of secular law in Denmark.
”That’s the way it works in Denmark, if you want to live here, you have to accept decisions by the court. If people don’t like it, they are free to leave.”
Karen Haekkerup, Socialdemocratic member of the committe on legal affairs in Parliament:
”It’s incomprehensible that someone wants a fatwa. It should suffice that the case is being tried in the Danish court system and at the European Human Rights Court. That’s the way the legal system works in Denmark. If anyone wants to add religious decrees to our legal system, I think one needs to consider if he or she wants to live in Denmark.”
The Common Council of Muslims distanced itself from the Islamic Society saying they supported taking the defamation charge to court, but added that everyone should accept the court’s verdict and move on.
Kasem Ahmad defended the decision to call for a fatwa by making it clear that it didn’t imply any threat of violence.
”We have been subject to so many provocations by you in the West. The latest example is the knightning of Salman Rushdie. Before that Jyllands-Posten insulted our prophet. Now we want directions from authoritative clerics in the Middle East on how to react.”
A fatwa is an answer by Muslim clerics to questions from Muslims on how to react in different situations. The best known fatwa was Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini’s call in 1989 for the killing of the writer Salman Rushdie for the publication of the novel ”The Satanic Verses” that according to Muslims contains passages insulting the prophet Mohammed.
Asked why Islamic Society cannot accept the ruling of a secular court in Denmark, Kasem Ahmad explained:
”This is not just about 200.000 Muslims in Denmark, it’s about 1,5 billion Muslims of the world whose prophet has been insulted.”
He added that he hoped the fatwa would call on all Muslims to ignore the provocations of the West.
That sounds encouraging, thank you, but it’s a little hard to believe. Yesterday Mr. Ahmad said the opposite, insisting that some day I will deeply regret the publication of the Mohammed cartoons. Let me also remind you that the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) with support from authoritative clerics in the Middle East is working systematically in all international organizations including the UN to make insulting the prophet a criminal offense all over the world. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most popular imam in the Middle East and closely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, has called on the UN to ban any insult to the prophet. Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, the Grand Mufti of Al-Alzhar University in Cairo who goes for a liberal in the West, has called for shutting down Jyllands-Posten and a three year jail sentence to the editor-in-chief Carsten Juste, and the depiction of me as a pig.
It’s no joke. Tantawi also called the Mohammed cartoons ”one of the most serious crimes ever committed”. At the time of his statement (August 2006) I made the following comment to the newspaper Berlingske Tidende:
”It gives food for thought, that he (Tantawi) believes it would be a punishment for me to be depicted as a pig. It confirms that the imam has a shocking lack of knowledge of our civilisation, and it confirms the need for dialogue. In the Arab world blasphemy laws are being used to suppress views differing from those in power.”
That same day my kids volunteered to draw me as a pig in order to put an end to the matter, though I am not sure it will do.