Danish Champion of Free Speech Almost Assassinated
Lars Hedegaard, 70, a Danish historian and journalist was attacked by a murderous assassin whom Hedegaard described as a “typical Muslim immigrant” in his mid-twenties. Hedegaard heads the Free Press Society, which fights for journalists’ and cartoonists’ rights to free speech and was formed after the uproar from cartoons of Mohammed.
When Hedegaard opened his front door, the assassin, dressed as a postman, fired a bullet directly at his head. Only a couple of feet away, the bullet barely missed its target, and when Hedegaard punched the assassin, the gun dropped, whereupon the assassin grabbed it back and tried to shoot Hedegaard again, failing because the gun jammed. The assassin then escaped. Hedegaard is now living under police protection at a hidden location.
Interviewed a week after the attempt on his life, Hedegaard said:
We have had quite a few attempts to silence people here. [The Danish cartoonist] Kurt Westergaard was almost killed a couple of years ago by a man from Somalia who came to his house and broke into it with an axe and tried to kill him. We still have prominent politicians under police guard, the former leader of the Danish People’s Party Pia Kjærsgaard, and also the former Conservative politician Naser Khader, who is of Syrian descent, a liberal Muslim. And now me.
Hedegaard has just started to publish Dispatch International, which is tackling the issues EU, climate change, immigration and Islam, much to the chagrin of the Scandinavian media, which has remained silent. What has he gotten for his efforts? Being hauled into court for “hate-speech” two years ago, although he was unanimously acquitted.
Hedegaard was asked if he had been blind to the possibility of being attacked, since others who have spoken out have been attacked or murdered. He responded:
I never speculated about that, because you can’t live your life that way. If every time you sit down to your computer to write something you have this idea in the back of your head, “I may be killed if I write this”, then of course you won’t be as good as you could be. You’ve got to distance yourself from fear if you want to be a true writer and a true intellectual, which is what I’m trying to be.
I don’t want to brag and put myself on a level where I don’t belong, but you could have said the same thing about the White Rose in Germany, the resistance group. They ought to have known that if they said something about Nazism, they would be killed. Or you could say the same thing about the Danish resistance movement during the German occupation. It was said to them: do not go out and sabotage. Collaborate and shut up, otherwise you’ll get to a concentration camp and you’ll be executed. You could have said the same thing to Winston Churchill or the British Army — why the hell make trouble? You know what’s going to happen if you resist — you’ll be killed. Yes, and many of them were.
It’s not because I’m a hero or I want to be a martyr. Far from it. I take it seriously that people, Danish taxpayers many years ago, paid for me to get a university education at a very good university in Denmark, where I learnt about history, humanities, logic and philosophy, and English by the way. I feel an obligation to use my education for what it was meant to be. If not, then you don’t deserve to be educated. If your education is to be used to shut up, placate, downplay, sweet talk, then you are better off being a carpenter.
As to the reasons Muslims would target him, he said:
The leaders of the Ummah [Islamic nation] now evidently believe, or want to demonstrate, that Sharia law has already gained force in places like Denmark. In other words it has supplanted our constitution in their minds. Of course it didn’t use to be that way, it used to be the way that you could draw Mohammed or paint him or say whatever you wanted in the Dar al-Harb [‘The Land of War’ — as opposed to the ‘Land of Islam’] because this was outside what Islam considered to be its territory. Now they are implicitly claiming that we are already under Sharia law.
Hedegaard also indicted the media:
You can certainly say that if you are constantly presented as an enemy of the people, as I have been, then you are fair game for any lunatic. You cannot blame some lunatics for thinking that you can easily come and kill me, because if you read all this day in and day out, year in and year out, the man is an absolute lunatic and full of lies and bile and what not, you can get him with impunity. Yes, of course I think it plays a role.
As to the future:
Well, the paper survives, we are more determined than ever that they should not take us down, come what may. What happens to me, I don’t know. I am fully prepared to stay alive to the best of my ability and I am more eager than ever to write my opinion and try to bring it across. Somebody must not like what I’m saying, so that’s all the more reason to continue saying it.
Europe today, here tomorrow?