Two cheers for Danish justice
Published in: Daily Mail
In the event, Denmark pulled back from the brink. Following my piece here a few days ago about the witch-hunt against the President of the Danish Free Press society Lars Hedegaard, the Danish Supreme Court ruled last Friday that he was not guilty after all of hate speech and racism – the second time he has been acquitted of this charge in a roller-coaster of a case which has stained Denmark’s reputation for justice, free speech and common-sense.
So a victory, certainly -- but still only two cheers for Denmark’s legal system. First, as has been the case throughout this saga, the acquittal – like the previous acquittal and conviction – turned merely on the narrow question of whether the remarks by Hedegaard which were in contention had been made in a private forum. The Supreme Court decided that he had had ‘no intention of disseminating his remarks to a wider audience’, and that therefore no offence had been committed.
The crux of the issue, whether someone is entitled to speak in public in Denmark about child abuse and violence towards women in Muslim culture, remains therefore very much an open question. The suspicion remains that under Danish law they are not; Article 266b of its penal code, under which Hedegaard was prosecuted, states that 'Whoever publicly or with the intent of public dissemination issues a pronouncement or other communication by which a group of persons are threatened, insulted or denigrated due to their race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation is liable to a fine or incarceration for up to two years.’
As Hedegaard himself observed after Friday’s acquittal:
‘Article 266b, under which I was charged, remains unchanged. It remains a disgrace to any civilised society and is an open invitation to frivolous trials. Thus, we still have no right to refer to truth if we are indicted under this article.
‘There have been several attempts to make 266b conform to normal standards of justice but successive governments and parliamentary majorities have steadfastly refused.’
It is likely therefore that Denmark will indeed criminalise any public defence of Muslim women and children against the horrors of ‘honour violence’. This is by no means a situation confined to Denmark. In Britain and throughout Europe, so-called ‘progressives’ have defined such a defence as ‘Islamophobia’. Thus they are doing the dirty work of Islamist fanatics in trampling down the freedom to defend the victims of sharia-based violence and oppression. Where are the feminists now?
Such ‘progressives’ turn people like Lars Hedegaard instead into the villain of the piece. Hence their silence or at best ambivalence over his ordeal, as they abandon both him and the victims of religious tyranny and terror he tries to defend, along with the freedom to speak truth to power and its abusers. Progressive is therefore the one thing they most definitely are not. Shame on them.