Is free speech a crusade too?

Probably aglow in contemplation of the recent election, the Palestinians now want the Danes out of their territory:

Dozens of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades members held a demonstration against Denmark Sunday at the main square in the West Bank town of Nablus, shouted anti-Danish slogans and threatened to harm Danish targets located in the West Bank and Gaza.

Sunday's demonstration is the last in a string of Muslim rallies to protest the recent publication of a series of caricatures mocking Muslim prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

The caricatures, including one that depicts Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban, stirred outrage among the Muslim community in Denmark that soon crossed borders and spread to other countries as well.

During the demonstration in Nablus, participants threatened to harm Danish interests in the territories and called on all Danish representatives and activists operating in the area to leave immediately. Members of the organization also urged Danish citizens planning to enter the territories to refrain from doing so in order to avoid being hurt.

Protesters also demanded the Palestinian public to suspend all ties with Denmark, in light of what they described as a "serious insult to Muslim sentiments."

An al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades senior member told Ynet that "the Danish campaign against the prophet Muhammad constitutes part of the crusade the western world conducts against Islam."

The Danish Crusaders?

Not so fast, Mr. Al Aksa. Historically, the only crusades in which Denmark was known to have participated were the Northern Crusades. These Baltic conversion missions were not directed against Islam, but against Pagans in nearby Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. (And this interesting essay looks for evidence of Scandinavian involvement with the better known Crusades in the Mideast -- known as the Holy Land -- but finds none.)

Nevertheless, the evil, crusading Danes have to go, and the al-Aksa activists claim this has no relationship to the recent election:

The activist stressed the demonstration was not related to recent political developments in the territories and to Hamas' win in the elections.

"This is a demonstration for Islam and against the enemies of Islam. We are not interested in seeing Danish nationals here, and we are currently debating how to act against them within our borders," he added.

Meanwhile, the International Islamic Council on Saturday called on all Muslims to make sure their protest against Denmark takes only peaceful means.

"We ask all members of the Islamic nations to express their views in a calm and civilized manner, and to avoid getting carried away and make mistakes unbecoming of Muhammad's way," the organization said in a statement.

Notably, Saudi Arabia has already recalled its ambassador from Copenhagen last week, claiming Denmark has not done enough to appease offended worshippers.

Regarding the latter point, Glenn Reynolds decried the campaign against the Danes earlier, asking "Where's the anger?" and linking to this post which describes the remarkable (and unfortunately nearly unilateral) courage of the Danes in standing up to the Saudis:
The cultural editor of the Jyllands-Posen has remained unapologetic, saying he put out the call in response to a worrying trend he had observed in the Western media: self-censorship. The paper has received bomb threats and the editors and the cartoonists have received death threats from adherents of the Religion of Peace but all have stood their ground.

With great bravery, so has Denmark’s prime minister, Anders Rasmussen, who declined a requested meeting with the ambassadors from 11 Muslim countries, saying he has no control over Denmark’s press “and nor do I want such”.

This was last September and the Muslims aren’t letting this issue go away. They’ve already lodged a somewhat florid protest at the UN, where they got the sympathy of a tranzi ear or two. But their aim is an abject apology from Denmark for breaking an Islamic taboo - or else. They grow more threatening and the courageous Anders Rasmussen calmly declines to change his mind, saying publishing cartoons is not against Danish law, which is the law that applies in Denmark.

Why are our cowardly leaders letting the steadfast Mr Rasmussen and the newspaper’s editors take the heat alone? Why has not one American Congressman raised the issue in Congress? No one would expect an unequivocal response from the British prime minister, but is there not one British MP brave enough to support Mr Rasmussen and the Danish people who are, after all, defending the liberty of all of us? Is there not one newspaper editor – even a tabloid – with the strength of conviction to support the Danes? Now Danish livelihoods are being threatened for failing to condemn this infraction against Islamic law, with boycotts of their products.

Is there not one damn’ politician in the entire Anglosphere who will take a stand with Mr Rasmussen? What about John Howard, then? The newly elected Harper? God help us, where is Jesse Jackson?

So far, the sole support has come from Norway....

It's not every day that I read something that makes me proud of my Norwegian ancestry.

I'm glad Scandinavians have started a Crusade for free speech. The world could use more of it.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: While I don't know how closely the al-Aksa Brigade works with Hamas, I read here that "Hamas finances, trains and sends Fatah`s Al Aksa Martyrs and Popular Committee militants to attack." I also think it's worth remembering that Hamas is largely Saudi funded.

UPDATE: A commenter below notes that Norway is a mixed bag because they recognize the Hamas government. But actually, it's worse than I thought, as Norway's left-wing foreign minister has gone so far as to apologize for Norwegian newspaper cartoons which had expressed solidarity with Denmark's:

Let it be clear that the Norwegian government condemns every expression or act which expresses contempt for people on the basis of their religion or ethnic origin. Norway has always supported the fight of the UN against religious intolerance and racism, and believes that this fight is important in order to avoid suspicion and conflict. Tolerance, mutual respect and dialogue are the basis values of Norwegian society and of our foreign policy.

Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of Norwegian society. This includes tolerance for opinions that not everyone shares. At the same time our laws and our international obligations enforce restrictions for incitement to hatred or hateful expressions.

Opposition politicians reacted to this message with indignation. Jon Lilletun, the spokesman on foreign policy for the Christian-democrat Kristelig Folkeparti, points out that it is not the ministry’s task to express an opinion on the content of the cartoons. Carl I. Hagen, the leader of the Progress Party, fears that freedom of expression is being swept under the carpet.

Magazinet published the cartoons in support of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which after publishing the drawings last September has been threatened with revenge by Muslim extremists. According to Islam it is blasphemy to depict Muhammad. The Danish government has consistently refused to give in to demands from Islamic countries that it apologize for the publication of the cartoons and introduce censorship.

As we noted before it is striking to see how Norwegian politics differs from Danish politics. The Norwegian Foreign Minister’s e-mail was meant to be confidential and not to be disclosed to the Norwegian public, “because,” as the Foreign Ministry wrote, “that would look rather stupid in the Norwegian press.” Apparently Muslims abroad are more deserving of respect than one’s own citizens. (Italics in original.)

(Via Little Green Footballs.)

Definitely a mixed bag.

Sounds like the voters in Norway need to make some changes. (No wonder their government is keeping the apology secret.)

UPDATE: Don't miss this post by Daily Pundit's Lastango. The political situation in Norway is more appalling than I thought.

MORE: Protests over the cartoon have escalated to the point of beatings as well as gunmen seizing an EU office:

BEIRUT, Lebanon - The controversy over Danish caricatures of Prophet Muhammad escalated Monday as gunmen seized an EU office in Gaza and Muslims appealed for a trade boycott of Danish products. Denmark called for its citizens in the Middle East to exercise vigilance.

Denmark-based Arla Foods, which has been the target of a widespread boycott in the Middle East, reported that two of its employees in Saudi Arabia were beaten by angry customers. Aid groups, meanwhile, pulled workers out of Gaza, citing the threat of hostilities.

So far, the Danes have refused to budge. Good for them!

posted by Eric on 01.29.06 at 12:26 PM


Well, I've switched to Tuborg Gold for beer - even though I prefer stouts. It's the only thing I can find locally that's imported from Denmark (aside from furniture, which I don't need).

Kathy K   ·  January 29, 2006 3:16 PM

We are holding up in Denmark ... for now!

BTW; I agree no concessions can and should be made!

claus vistesen   ·  January 29, 2006 3:46 PM

Unfortunately, Norway has also just come out in full support of the new Hamas government, so they're clearly a rather mixed bag.

Aaron Davies   ·  January 29, 2006 9:36 PM

That's a very interesting summary, one that says a great deal about how information and issues move around the Arab world.

FWIW, here’s our own most "> recent post on how things are going in Norway. It’s grim.

Lastango   ·  January 30, 2006 4:22 AM

Don't forget that the Norwegian Finance Minister recently backed her party's call for a boycott of Israel!

Chefen   ·  January 30, 2006 6:46 AM

What exactly is a "terrorist religion"? A religion that terrorists subscribe to? Most subscribe to Islam. OK, check. Is it a religion that advocates voilence against non-believers? Yes, Islam does that. Check.

Want to know more about Islam. Check out

Finally, some claim that freedom of speech and expression does not extend to criticising religions and hurting religious peoples' sentiments. But then shouldn't religious freedom also be similarly circumscribed? Why is it that Islam can have the "religious freedom" to heap invective and vile epithets on idol-worshippers like me -- a peaceful person myself -- and vow to kill me (merely because I don't bow to their Allah) without any provocation? How about calling the Koran (Quran) for the piece of terrorist manual it is and prohibiting its publication?

The moment Denmark capitulates and apologizes officially, I will know that Europe can be written off: it has lost to the terrorist dogma called Islam.

Idolworshipper   ·  February 1, 2006 5:11 AM

Demark are hypocrites. Why is it still illegal to publish NAZI cartoons there. Freedom of speech my ass, its total crap.

cruxis   ·  February 4, 2006 9:31 PM

I beleive that Christians in all the word should work har to initiate a positive dialogue with the muslim nation, to honestly tell them about Jesus and Christianity. It is to be known to everybody in the world the Islam invites to KILL non beleivers, and is not democratic at all, for this Christians have to do their job with all love and respect to their brothers and sisters in Islam.

Ziad   ·  February 6, 2006 10:01 AM

All the governments should have made a detailed study of Islam and what it intends in short and long run before they start giving permits and visa's to Muslims. All the info can be found at
Muslim people are stuck in that circle. Instead of inulting their prophet let us create a worlwide movement toward a free dialogue of cultures, that aims expose the truth and free people from threir own prisons.

Ziad   ·  February 6, 2006 10:07 AM

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