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George Orwell

Je suis...

2. september 2018 - International - af Aia Fog, Chairman Free Press Society

Kurt Westergaard, Lars Vilks og Lars Hedegaard i 2007. Foto: Steen R.

I have now been gradually vaccinated ad nauseam against all the unending crying, wringing of hands, agonized excuses and gushing demonstrations of regret, expressed every time threats from offended Muslims feelings rears up its ugly head: by Lars Løkke when he talks about "the rape of Islam". By torch-lit vigils. Of “Imagine”-singing people holding pencils aloft. Of all the Je Suis campaigns. It is a devoid-of-consequence, virtue-signaling attempt to “purchase indulgences” so to speak, and an excuse for not doing anything at all - and it most certainly will not make any potential terrorist wonder if our will to defend our values is so strong that he might as well pack up his weapons and crawl out of the truck.

Today, Wednesday, the French Embassy, ​​with Ambassador Francois Zimeray at the helm, will be holding a nice reception with Queen Margrethe and the French presidential couple as honorary guests.

The ambassador, who himself was present during the terrorist attack on Krudttønden in 2015, has, as a nice gesture (on the surface anyhow) also invited a number of other people who also had chosen to participate in the event that fateful February day in which Omar el Hussein unleashed his horror, killing Finn Nørgaard in the process - in the name of Islam.

But, the target of Omar El Hussein's terrorist attack, the Swedish artist and art professor Lars Vilks, is not invited. Helle Merete Brix, who hosted the event at Krudttønden, quoted Zimeray in Weekendavisen, explaining that "... it is not possible because he is neither a Danish nor a French citizen. [...] That is the criteria. There is also so much clamoring to get an invitation, that a number of ambassadors’ colleagues, private friends and family cannot get an invitation".

A foolish and lame explanation from the French side, because of course they could find room for Vilks if they had wanted too.  But they did not want to, and the real explanation is the usual one: One does not want to offend Muslim feelings by inviting a Muhammad cartoonist, thereby exposing yourself to the risk of violence that always accompanies the so easily-offended Muslim feelings.

Thus, the French embassy puts itself right up there with the Skovgaard Museum, which in 2017 opened an exhibition on blasphemy in art, included a "work" in which the crucified Christ was immersed in piss, but who had not included the most iconic picture when talking about blasphemy in art, namely Kurt Westergaard's Muhammad drawing.

Here, the head of the Skovgaard Museum, Anne-Mette Willumsen, came out with just as lame an excuse as that of the French ambassador, namely that Kurt Westergaard’s Muhammad drawing was not included because it would remove focus from the exhibition's other works.

It is cringingly embarrassing to hear these made-up and dishonest excuses that only serves to cover up fear, cowardice and self-censorship. I do not doubt Zimeray's good intentions when he invites the victims of terror from Krudttønden to a nice reception. But when the invitation does not include the very person whom the terrorist wished to kill, Zimeray's gesture will appear as an empty cadeau to the people present, instead of a strong indication that Denmark and France joins forces in the defense of that most fundamental freedoms, freedom of expression.

During the same year the terrorist attack took place at Krudttønden and the Synagogue in Krystalgade, the Freedom of the Press Society held an international conference on the 10th anniversary of the Muhammad drawings.  On this occasion I wanted to book a table at restaurant FIAT at Kgs. Nytorv for an evening dinner for panelists and specially invited guests, after the conference.  We were to be a company of approx. 20 people. FIAT were extremely cordial, absolutely anything could be done! - until I happened to mention that we also wished to book a table nearby for 4 bodyguards.

Suddenly there was silence on the other end of the line, and when the waiter heard that Flemming Rose and Lars Hedegaard were among our guests, the conversation was politely interrupted with the message that they would get back to us. An hour later I was called up and told that FIAT could not accommodate us after all.

I have now been gradually vaccinated ad nauseam against all the unending crying, wringing of hands, agonized excuses and gushing demonstrations of regret, expressed every time threats from offended Muslims feelings rears up its ugly head: by Lars Løkke when he talks about "the rape of Islam". By torch-lit vigils. Of “Imagine”-singing people holding pencils aloft. Of all the Je Suis campaigns. It is a devoid-of-consequence, virtue-signaling attempt to “purchase indulgences” so to speak, and an excuse for not doing anything at all - and it most certainly will not make any potential terrorist wonder if our will to defend our values is so strong that he might as well pack up his weapons and crawl out of the truck.

Quite the contrary.

An invitation to Lars Vilks with our Queen and the French presidential couple would have sent a very important signal.  Zimeray did not have the courage.

Je Suis