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The Death of Free Speech in Europe: On Trial in Denmark for “Islamophobia”

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Posted on January 10 2011 7:16 pm
Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York. For extended biography visit The Phyllis Chesler Organization.

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On January 24, 2011, the distinguished Lars Hedegaard, the President of the Danish Free Press Society and the International Free Press Society, will stand trial for telling the truth about Islamic gender apartheid.

Europe, once the birthplace of freedom, is fast becoming its graveyard.

True, the Church tortured and burned many geniuses as heretics; Dutch Jews excommunicated Spinoza; wars for religious supremacy raged for hundreds of years. Still, concepts such as free speech and individual human rights over and above the divine rights of Kings gradually ruled the European zeitgeist. Americans and other former colonists romanticized Europe as “the” place for artists, free thinkers, and free spirits.

Despite fairly rigid class systems, and the continued existence of symbolic (but well paid) monarchies, European countries are known for providing educational, social, and health care services for all—a reality which, given immigration, and native concepts of a short work week followed by an early, long retirement, may potentially bankrupt them all.

Nevertheless, Europe has been in the forefront of both free speech and libertinism. For example, Denmark legalized gay marriage in 1989; Holland and Germany followed suit in 2001. In 1999, Denmark decided that prostitutes could ply their trade as individuals, but outlawed both pimps and brothels. In 2000, Holland legalized brothels. From 1999 on, buying—but not selling sex—has been illegal in Sweden. In 2009,   Norway and Iceland passed similar legislation. Austria, a decadent country, led the pack; since 1986, prostituted Austrian women have been obliged to pay taxes on their income.

One often assumes that freedom of thought and speech must co-exist with such misogynist libertinism. One would be wrong. In 2004, in Holland, journalist and filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was butchered and Ayaan Hirsi Ali was sent into hiding and then exile; in 2009, politician Geert Wilders was also put on trial for trying to tell the truth about Islamic gender and religious apartheid and jihad. Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is currently on trial in Austria for talking off the record to a journalist about her own experiences while living in the Islamic world.

Please note: Islamists did not launch their legal prosecution. Their own countrymen, in the language of “political correctness” and in the guise of opposing “hate speech” did so.

In 2010, the American author, Bruce Bawer and his Norwegian colleagues were accused of “racism” and “Islamophobia” by Norwegian leftists and Islamists who tried to have their excellent   online website Human Rights Service defunded. This site publishes work about Islam and women’s rights. One leftist minister actually reported them to the United Nations for “Islamophobia.” Hege Storhaug and Rita Karlsen, who run the website, have just informed me that they do not believe this minister will succeed in having them declared “racists” or in de-funding their work.

And now, free speech is under full-scale attack in Denmark.

The Danes have, perhaps, been traumatized by what happened in 2005, when Islamists slipped three more offensive cartoons into Kurt Westergaard’s Danish cartoon mix, and then used their own cartoons to justify riots against Westergaard and other infidels. Global publishers became frightened and refused to reprint the less offensive cartoons. Even Yale University Press, which published a book about the cartoons, pulled the actual cartoons from their edition, without telling the author.

To this day, more than six years later, Westergaard still lives in hiding with an armed guard. In 2010, Lars Wilks, the Swedish artist, was nearly murdered by a would-be Muslim assassin.

And now we have the Danish criminal prosecution of two Danish heroes: Lars Hedegaard and Jesper Langballe, a member of the Danish Parliament. Both men are accused of committing “hate speech.” What speech did Langballe utter?

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