The following article appeared in the February 18th print edition of the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende, and as far as I know is not available online. It has been translated into English by Rolf Krake.
The common sense displayed here by Mr. Aamund is all but unheard of today — except in Denmark.
The Danes really get it. Even the major MSM outlets in Denmark get it. After three years of immersion in Danish media, I’m still amazed by the difference between the Danish papers and those in the rest of the West.
What makes Denmark different? It must be all that røget sild — I can’t think of any other explanation…
By Asger Aamund, chief executive
When have we ever — we the Lutheran public-church Danes — burned a Hindu, flogged a Buddhist, or spat on a Catholic? When have we ever mobbed a Muslim because he prayed to Allah?
Have we mocked him because he is fasting? Have we teased him, because he gave to charity? Have we made him into a fool, because he went to Mecca on a pilgrimage? No, naturally we haven’t; Denmark is a friendly, tolerant, and hospitable land, permitting everyone to have his own belief.
That is the nice version. The reality is, we are not tolerant, but couldn’t give a damn about what others believe. That is entirely their own mess. But whether we are tolerant or just don’t give a damn, the result is fortunately the same, that being that all the people who live in Denmark can freely practice their religion, without someone ever dreaming about crumpling a hair on their head.
The Danes absolutely shouldn’t accept being accused of persecuting their Muslim minority, Islamophobia, fear of Islamic, and lack of understanding for religious and cultural co-existence.
Nonetheless we can expect that the accusations of religious discrimination against Muslims will take on force at an international level, with the Durban II conference approaching in Geneva and the conference on Freedom of Expression in Copenhagen.
All real democracies constitutionalize and protect religious freedom, and also practice it. If political Islamic forces can achieve protection by international law against mocking, ridicule, and making a laughingstock of Islam as a religion, they have thus achieved their main goal: a criminalization of criticism aimed at Islam as a political system. For a freedom-loving democracy there is plenty to approve of, when we compare Islam as a political system to Western democracies: In a democracy we stand for uncompromised human rights. In political Islam human rights are subordinate to Islamic law.
The Danish governing system stands for integration and a unified society. Political Islam demands apartheid and a parallel society.
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A democracy requires equality between men and women, and Islam dictates that the woman is inferior to the man. A democracy wants public schools, freedom of expression and of the press. In political Islam, gender-divided education and political censorship predominate. Individual freedom and responsibility are the founding pillars in a democratic society. Political Islam does not recognize individual freedom and responsibility, but is founded on a male dominated family structure and clan hierarchy as the social grounds for identity.
Before we get started and carried away into the debate leading towards the two upcoming conferences which concern freedom of expression, I would like to encourage the government and the parliament, chief editors, and commentators to stay on the case, which is about politics and not religion.
We must with a firm hand slam shut the lid on the religious coffin and affirm that Denmark practices religious freedom perfectly, so there is nothing to discuss any longer.
On the contrary we would very much like to discuss how we defend our freedom and the people’s democracy against oppression and tyranny.
The solution is not dialogue with anti-democratic political movements, which try to win footholds in the Western democracies, hidden behind the façade of religion and its protective shield. What compromise should the dialogue lead to? Where is the middle ground between tyranny and freedom? The solution is not the elastic retreat, which ends with the exact compromise that political Islam wants: “I respect your taboos, if you respect mine”. It is a bad bargain for us. Because a democracy has got no taboos. Political Islam is all about taboos.
It is therefore the democracies’ task and responsibility to assure that international society understands and accepts that we will never permit Islamic totalitarian political dogmas — with or without belief — to take root in our free and democratic society.
The beard apart and snot apart, in the words of Viggo Hørup. Now with a modern addition: beliefs apart and tyranny apart.
(Berlingske Tidende 18.02.2009, ikke online)
Hat tip: TB.