Flemming Rose, the editor of Jyllands-Posten, recently had the opportunity to interview both Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He has some excerpts in his Pajamas Media column today:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, you have said that free speech is threatened in Europe. What do you mean by that?
AHA: “When I came to the Netherlands in the nineties Prime minister Wim Kok and his ministers were driving their bicycle to work and to meetings. Today they are driving in armored cars. In Europe it isn’t obvious anymore that a politician can express his opinions and then go home by bike.
The Dutch movie-maker Theo van Gogh was killed because he made a movie somebody didn’t like. A French school teacher (Robert Redeker) has been forced into hiding after having published an op-ed critical of Islam. We have seen similar cases in Germany, Denmark and Sweden, where cartoonists have been threatened because they made cartoons of Mohammed. In all these cases people have been put under police protection by just because they have exercised their right to speak.
And this is only the most prominent cases that have caught the attention of the media, but a lot of incidents never reach the media. In the Netherlands teachers are dropping certain subjects due to fear for their own safety.
Finally you have my own case. I have expressed certain opinions with which one can agree or disagree, but because of these opinions my life is danger.
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Today it is perceived as right wing to be in favor of law and order, but it ought to be politically neutral. We have the necessary laws on the books, but the authorities are not always willing to enforce them. They prefer to send criminals to therapy instead of prison. Enforcing the law, going after criminals and punishing them will improve the situation of free speech.”
Read the whole thing to see what Anders Fogh Rasmussen had to say.
The illiberal regime which has strengthened its grip on most of Europe over the last ten years is based on a convergence of interests between the Left and Islam.
Both groups would like to see dissent silenced, the Muslims in the name of the Prophet, and the Left to ensure the ascendancy of the Socialist, Green, or Multiculturalist millennium — take your pick, it depends on the Utopia-of-the-Month flavor.
The interests of these two unlikely allies will diverge soon enough, but in the meantime anyone who is interested in free and unfettered discourse is under siege.
From Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s adopted country comes a story about a growing movement to silence Geert Wilders. According to Expatica:
Front against Wilders on the rise
The “reasonable people” of the Netherlands are starting a movement against the standpoints of Geert Wilders, the Volkskrant reports. René Danen of the anti-racist organisation Nederland Bekent Kleur and Mohamed Sini of the Islam and Citizenship foundation hope to be able to put together a broad countermovement in the coming weeks.
The Refugee Council of the Netherlands also supports the call from Doekle Terpstra, former trade union leader and chairman of the HBO Council for universities of applied science. Terpstra said in Trouw last week that he was annoyed at Wilders’ actions and his statements about Islam as a fascist religion. He talks about the “Wilderisation of society” and “Wilders’ evil message.”
“I feel more and more provoked by the constant insults towards Muslims,” Terpstra says. “Wilders abuses his position and freedom of speech as an alibi to bait society and create rifts.” He also says: “Am I the only one who is angry and concerned? Unions, employers, Muslims, churches, humanists unite, join forces and turn the tide.”
Remember: truly free speech is provocative, controversial, and divisive. There is no need to protect words which are bland and offend no one.
The first step in stifling an opinion is to declare it an “abuse” of free speech.
“That is what we want to do now,” says Danen. There are no concrete plans yet, but one aim is to organise a demonstration around the time that Wilders’ much talked about film on Islam is to be shown, sometime in January.
Danen says that is feasible. As leader of a student union and more recently the protest platform Keer het Tij (Turn the tide), which opposed the social-economic measures of the last centre-right governments, he has plenty of experience in organising large scale protest.
Remember: protests like this in the Netherlands, as in much of Western Europe, usually include the local chapter of Antifascist Action, which uses beatings, threats, intimidation, and harassment to silence anyone they deem “racist”. Expect a large contingent of Antifa people to take part in the demonstration, with the tacit support of the authorities.
In a reaction Wilders said Terpstra’s comments were “outright disgusting.” He pointed out that his party had the democratic support of a half million voters. Nor is he happy to be associated with something like “an evil message.” It is a small step from that to calling for violence against his person, Wilders said.
And indeed it is. Mr. Wilders has the example of Pim Fortuyn before him to remind him what happens to Dutch politicians who stray beyond the accepted boundaries of politically correct opinion. They are reviled, demonized, and eventually cast into the outer darkness, where a violent end can be expected — after all, didn’t they bring it on themselves?
These are vile times we live in. Decent and humane people are beset on all sides by those who would destroy them without compunction.
Update: Typo corrected. Thanks, DH.
Hat tips: TB and Fjordman.