Denmark’s Prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is keeping a high profile in the fight for individual freedom and protection of human rights in Europe. Today in Berlin he criticised the Dutch parliament for having failed to protect the former Dutch politician but still Dutch citizen Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
In a speech to Europe’s Liberal Democrats (ELDR) congress A Liberal Europe for a Free World, to which network Hirsi Ali’s political party VVD belongs, Mr. Rasmussen insisted on the liberal democracies’ obligation to protect persecuted writers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
”Every free society and democracy has an obligation to guarantee her right to speak freely and take measures to secure her personal safety,” said Mr. Rasmussen.
He spoke of Hirsi Ali as a ”ligtening carrier” of the European tradition of liberty.
”We cannot hesitate, we have to stand together in order to protect people who as our liberal Dutch colleague Ayaan Hirsi Ali fights bravely for the right to free speech,” concluded the Danish Prime minister.
Two thumbs up for Mr. Rasmussen. He seems to understand how important it is to do what it takes to protect the most courageous defenders of Europe’s values. During the Cold War it was individuals like Vaclav Havel, Adam Michnik, Andrei Sakharov and others east of the Iron Curtain. Today it’s people like Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Salman Rushdie, Irshad Manjii, Mina Ahadi and other dissidents from the Muslim world who are the most ardent defenders of our civilization.
Europe is in the middle of a crucial struggle of ideas that will determine the future of the continent. In this struggle it is very important that Muslims or former Muslims that fight totalitarian ideologies and movements within Islam can speak out knowing that liberal democracies will take measures to protect them no matter what.
How else should we be able to convince Muslims to take part in the public debate? We are calling on them all the time to speak out against Islamists and fellow Muslims who want to liquidate the foundation of liberal democracies, keep the inferior status of women in Islam and kill those who insist on their right to leave Islam.
In this context it’s unbelievable to conceive of the fact that the Netherlands is the bedrock of religious tolerance and enlightenment values in Europe. The country where John Locke found refugee from political persecusation, a country where dissidents from all over Europe once could publish their works. Does the Dutch parliament know to what extent it has betrayed the legacy that made the Netherlands one of the most open and tolerant societies in the world?
Today Jyllands-Posten spoke at length with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Stay tuned for details.