Forfattere i USA står op for ytringsfrihed

Hvad siger det om vestlige demokratier, at de ikke beskytter deres borgeres ytringsfrihed?

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Writers in the US are standing up for free speech

What does it say about Western democracies if they do not protect their citizens’ freedom of expression?

This Friday prominent American writers like Paul Auster and his wife Siri Hustvedt gathered on the stairs in front of The New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue under the slogan “Stand with Salman: Defend the Freedom to Write.” (“In solidarity with Salman Rushdie: Defend the right to write freely.”)

A week ago, Salman Rushdie was stabbed during a literary event north of New York City when a man jumped on stage and stabbed him several times with a knife. Ironically, Rushdie was about to talk about how the United States is a safe heaven for writers who cannot stay safely in their own countries.

For more than thirty years, Salman Rushdie has lived a life with security guards 24/7 – simply because he did what writers do – used his creativity in a literary work. In one such experiment he played with the idea that the holy book of the Muslim faith, the Koran, was not divinely inspired but rather the result of a whispers from Satan. For that work, The Satanic Verses, he garnered a fatwa from Iran’s top Islamic leader that encouraged any Muslim to murder Rushdie. In addition, a bounty of 3 million dollars was put on his head.

For more than thirty years, Rushdie has lived with the knowledge that radicalized Muslims all over the world had a desire to kill him or would rejoice if others did. Rushdie moved from Europe to the United States, where he, for more than twenty years, was almost able to live a normal life. Until now.

Unfortunately, he is not the only one who has had to move from Europe because he criticized Islam. As Europe becomes more Islamized, several people with inside knowledge of Islam have spoken out and problematized various cultural and value attitudes that are not compatible with Western, free democracies. For their outspokenness, they have received death threats. Several have even paid the ultimate price. In several cases, the European governments have not wanted to spend the financial means needed to protect people who spoke against Islam. For example , Ayaan Hirshi Ali, who is originally from Somalia and became a politician and critic of Islam in the Netherlands, also had to move to the United States because her Dutch homeland could not guarantee her safety.

When an author, journalist, comedian or writer is attacked for what he or she has as a profession, namely his words, what does he have left?

“An attack on a writer, cartoonist, comedian, politician, or public figure because of his or her statements and writing is an attack on each and every one of us who believe in democratic values.

Salman Rushdie has never compromised on his beliefs, but has again and again and again pleaded for the right to express himself freely. He has done this with intellectual depth and quirky humor. Despite living under a constant threat, he has helped other writers and intellectuals who were in vulnerable positions because they spoke out against authoritarian regimes or extreme religious groups. Most recently, he has joined a network that helps Ukrainian writers.

It shouldn’t be necessary to say. But these days, writers and other creative souls cannot freely use their creativity and write without fear. All over the world there is a keen sense of awareness that when you speak out or write critically about totalitarian regimes and Islam, there might be a price of violence to pay.

Our rights and freedoms here in the West are more fragile than we dare to admit. Because if we admit that premise, then we also admit that our societal model and form of government have failed. If we can only feel safe within the borders of our own countries, when we shut down criticism, turn a blind eye, and refuse to speak out on specific subjects, and self-censor ourselves, then the rights we think we have are a hollow illusion.

We are faced with a choice: we can remain silent in fear. Or we can do as the writers who, without face coverings and with their names clearly stated today on the steps in the heart of New York to the library that contains thousands of books – all the result of a creative, free process, refuse to let violence destroy the principles we believe in.

An attack on a writer, cartoonist, comedian, politician or public figure because of his or her statements and writing is an attack on each and every one of us who believe in democratic values in a society with individual liberties.

May the voices that dare to speak against regimes of violence, hatred and religion never remain silent when threatened! May we fight for them to be able to write and say what they wish without fear of reprisals. And may our western democratic states wake up soon, so that you don’t have to be brave to express yourself freely. #StandWithSalman

Muslimske mænd: Mand jer op!

Hvor er vestlige muslimers kamp for afghanske pigers ret til at gå i skole

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Muslim Men: Man Up!

Why are Muslims in Western countries not fighting for Afghan girls’ right to go to school?

It’s been a year since Biden threw in the towel and gave Afghanistan’s girls and women the middle finger. The American exit was a disaster and a scandal, both for the country’s reputation and for the Afghan girls and women who are now caged behind their veils and the walls of their homes. The United States has a responsibility for sure. But what is much worse is that Muslim men in Afghanistan and the rest of the world are not fighting for their Afghan mothers, sisters and daughters – and that is a disgrace worse than the failed US presence in Afghanistan.

A year ago, city after city in Afghanistan fell to the extreme Islamist group, Taliban. For more than 20 years, American soldiers had been present in the country and tried to make a difference in relation to democracy, gender equality, and showing the population an alternative to the Taliban’s regime of violence and terror.

“Where were the Afghan men who reportedly overwhelmingly support girls’ right to school? Why didn’t they form a protective ring around the women?

Faster than anyone could say failed democratization, Afghan men laid down their weapons that should have been used to defend the weakest part of the population, namely women and children. The coward for a president took his billions and fled the country.

We all remember the images of desperate people trying to get out of the country, clinging to the wings of an airplane but ending up dead, while we watched them fall to the ground like little dark specks as the plane took off. In a flash I remembered the towers in New York when they were hit and people jumped off the buildings and straight to their deaths.

Violence, panic, chaos; families that were torn apart; women gave birth on the premises of the base; people died of hunger and thirst in the scorching heat or as a result of violent episodes.

Thousands of Afghans desperately tried to get out of the country when they saw where things were headed. They remembered all too well what the regime of terror by the Taliban. They knew very well that the Taliban speak with a forked tongue. In particular, everyone knew how girls and women were treated.

Imagine how the girls and women who stayed back are doing now – the hell they are living in. Taliban leaders told the West it was only a matter of time before schools would reopen to middle school-age girls. So we waited, and so did the girls in Afghanistan. On the day that was supposed to be the first day of school, they were more than ready. They smiled, there was a spring in their step; this was the day they had been looking forward to. Finally, they could go back to school. But when they showed up, long-bearded, robe-clad cavemen waited for them and told them that they wouldn’t be allowed back to school after all. What a vicious exercise of power, what a dehumanizing humiliating display of power. Since then, the girls have been hidden away and are back in kitchens, doing the laundry, and scrubbing the floors. If they move outside, they risk being beaten or shot.

A few days ago, approximately 40 women demonstrated for equal rights. 40 brave women. One almost get a lump in ones throat. The BBC reported that the demonstration was quickly dissolved when the Taliban regime’s scoundrels shot into the air in a show of force. The message to the women was loud and clear: Go home, or we’ll lower our guns and shoot into your little group.

Where were the Afghan men who reportedly overwhelmingly support girls’ right to go to school? Why didn’t they form a protective ring around the women? Why don’t they speak up for these girls when they clearly have no problem declaring in front of an open screen and in various opinion polls that they most certainly support girls’ right to go to school and absolutely do not agree with the Taliban? And where are the Muslims living in the West when it comes to supporting their fellow Afghan sisters? Here in the West, they live in safety with no threat when they utter their views. Here in the West, in stark contrast to the Afghan girls and young women, their sisters, wives and daughters have all the rights and access to free education they could ever dream of. So why don’t we hear a peep from some of the voices that otherwise shout so loudly that their rights in western democratic countries are not respected?

It is a cheap shot and a double standard to criticize things that you consider not adhering and accommodating Muslim values in countries that are based on Western freedoms, while enjoying these freedoms and simultaneously advocating and demonstrating for more legislative changes that accommodate Muslim values. The fact that you don’t lift a finger, take to the streets, or collect signatures to shout out about and for the rights of women who need the loud shouts more than you need to implement Muslim values into the legislation in western democracies, leaves me with a strong disgust, distaste, and lack of respect. So Muslim men : Man you up!

Kan ro og orden gå hånd i hånd med ytringsfrihed?

Urolighederne i Sverige viser, hvilke enorme udfordringer Europa står over for.

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Is peace and order possible in societies with freedom of speech?

The unrest in Sweden reveal enormous challenges facing Europe.

Are you allowed to spit on a book, step on it, burn it off in a godforsaken rest area in the outskirts of Sweden? Yes, you have the right to do that – even if it is neither very original, nor constructive.

There is no need to discuss what our rights are, we are well aware of them. If you would like to, you could portray Christ with a ginormous boner and gods and prophets with and without bombs in their turbans.

The right and ability to mock politicians, religions, gods and prophets is a way of measuring whether a society is free – it is precisely when freedom of speech is pushing our limits for feeling comfortable that we know it works. It is the cornerstone of a free country. But in a globalized world people with different views move around. And when the majority views freedom of expression differently than countries, in for instance Scandinavia, is it then time to scale back on ideology and keep ones positions on politics, religion etc. to conversations around the dining table within the confined space of our homes?

The Danish model worked because the population was homogeneous and largely based on the same culture and the same values. That is no longer the case. You can mourn it, but it’s the reality. When the demography changes, so must the model of society.

How do we deal with the massive aggressions lurking beneath the surface in many European countries? Around Europe, streets and residential areas are on fire every time religious criticism is perceived as personal persecution.

Something has to give. How should secular nations of atheistic culturally Christians on the one hand and hardcore believers for whom there is no difference between faith and the individual, on the other, live together in the same country?

It is difficult for a Dane to understand the feelings that exist within Islam. And it is a corner stone in Danish identity to seek consensus.

A few years ago, a priest in the United States wanted to burn a Koran in front of his church. The Pentagon asked him not to. For the safety of US forces in the Middle East.

It should be clear at this point in time that in a global world, actions taken in the small Danish town of Skive can reach all the way to Shanghai, Koran burnings at a rest stop in Sweden and drawings in a Danish newspaper can become known throughout the world in an instant.

It should also be clear at this point that it is both ignorant and arrogant to believe that all immigrants from totalitarian regimes who come to Western democracies will naturally embrace the values of western democracies.

We know the conditions in Saudi Arabia, the repression in China, the killings of journalists and political opponents in Russia, Turkey’s mafia methods around Europe on opponents of the president, killings and rapes of women in India, girls’ repression in Afghanistan. The list is long, I have unfortunately only just started. When democracies are attacked by totalitarian powers, and when violence is met with the desire for dialogue, when basic human rights are met with oppression – then resistance is shattered, democracies lose and the dialogue falls silent.

Simply put: The soft fight for freedom of expression, as we have defined it until now, is lost. For the premise of mutual understanding is basically not just skewed, but in a conflicting relationship where the parties can never reach each other. “Freedom of expression is inviolable” faces “nothing critical may be said about Islam”.

Western democracies are fundamentally based on dialogue, exchange of views and compromise. Especially in a democracy like the Danish one, where minority governments have historically been the norm, our approach to resolving disagreements is negotiation, consensus and dialogue.

Denmark is one of the world’s best functioning countries. The Danish model worked because the population was homogeneous and largely based on the same culture and the same values. That is no longer the case. You can mourn it, but it’s the reality. When the demography of a population changes, so must the model of society.

The United States has long debated freedom of speech, and the different states are massively divided on their approach. In general, we have learned to censor what we say and do in public when it comes to religion. There are no Christian holidays here, no Easter egg hunts, and no Christmas decorations in public schools.

That’s fine with me – the less religion takes up space, the better. But for those of us in favor of freedom of expression, the line has been crossed in an attempt to compromise, when books that can be perceived as offensive are censored out of libraries and curricula at educational institutions. The result is young, ignorant and single-minded people.

The balance is difficult, and personal preferences mean that the population groups themselves in enclaves, select schools and educational institutions that meet their beliefs, choose friends with the same ethnicity, culture, and religion. The American society works, but it is divided.

I wonder if Europe will not develop into being more like the ones we have in the United States? How long can European societies last if the streets are constantly set on fire because of hurt feelings before drastic changes have to take place?

If we want a society of peace and order and a peaceful coexistence in a population that is no longer as homogeneous as it once was, freedom of speech and peace and order are opposites.

If we give in and keep quiet, we are compromising the ideology that most of us treasure as absolutely essential to our freedoms, identity and human condition. But if we do not give in and continue as usual, the streets will be on fire again and again and human lives will be lost. None of these to premises are acceptable.

How do we find a different way of living our values than the one that worked in what seems like an antiquated Danish society, where the population shared culture, ethnicity and religion? If we insist on going about religious topics in public space in a way we found healthy and liberating in the 1970s, we risk a divided society.

What did the American priest end up doing? He canceled his Koran burning event – and avoided a reaction of violence and hatred, perhaps even saving the lives of American soldiers in the Middle East. But he did so at the expense of freedom of speech.

Ukrainske mænd kæmper for deres kvinder – hvorfor gør afghanske mænd ikke det samme?

Afghanske kvinder og ukrainske mænd er villige til at sætte livet på spil for frihed.

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Ukrainian men fight for their women – why are Afghan men not doing the same?

Afghan women and Ukrainian men are willing to risk their lives for freedom.

They get their women and children on trains and wave their goodbyes. Then take up arms, for many for the first time in their lives. Or they make sure that wives, mothers, and sisters are safe in shelters deep underground, while heading out to fight against a brutal supremacy.

When journalists ask Ukrainian soldiers what they are fighting for, they reply “peace” and “the future of my children.”

Most of us have been deeply touched by the willingness of Ukrainians to fight for the freedom the country has only known since 1991, when they gained their independence. That is about as long as most of Afghanistan´s women experienced freedom from the oppressing cavemen of Taliban.

“It’s like being in a room that’s too small and too dark,” a young Afghan woman told a journalist on the New York Times podcast The Daily.

Yesterday, the Afghan girls were supposed to be back in schools after being sentenced to months of household chores indoors. The first thing the Taliban did when they took power in August last year, of course, was to cut off girls from education.

The girls’ dreams turned out to be just that – dreams. Because when the excited, happy, giddy girls showed up at their schools, they were sent home again if they went to a higher grade level than 6th grade. BBC World News shows pictures of covered girls with tearstained cheeks collapsing in anguish and others with an expressionless gaze.

The misogyny is devastatingly heartbreaking! Men were waving the girls biggest dreams in front of them, letting them rejoice, letting them get their classrooms ready, wiping chairs and school desks off – and then telling them that they can not get the education they have been looking forward to.

Far from all girls have the opportunity to participate in online learning. But those who do, study foreign languages, art, literature, physics, and chemistry. Some go to the bookstore and buy books, devouring as much learning as they can at home. Others draw, do dance groups with girlfriends, meet secretly.

In short – the girls have a will to fight, even if it is deadly dangerous if discovered that they spend their time on something other than domestic chores, which the Taliban believes is a woman’s ultimate purpose in life.

But the men in Afghanistan underestimate their girls and women if they think they are content with doing the dishes, cleaning, cooking, and give birth. Men have always underestimated women. And women have always had to do the dishes, clean, cook, and give birth – while completing an education.

This generation of Afghan women has access to the Internet – and thus to a knowledge of how women and girls in other parts of the world live. I wonder if they marvel at how men in Ukraine are willing to sacrifice their lives in the fight for their women and girls freedom.

Imagine what Afghanistan would look like, how the country and its citizens could flourish, if the Afghan men put their foot down and went against the Taliban brutality that has forced itself into power in the country. Imagine if the girls were allowed to believe in a future where they can live out their dreams and immense potential!

But since it does not seem to be the case that Afghan men want to fight for their women’s right to a free and peaceful life, like the Ukrainian men are willing to do, Afghan girls and women must fight for themselves. It should not have to be like that, but as I already said, there is nothing new in women having to fight for their rights without the aid of men.

I hope that Afghan women have as much fighting spirit as the Ukrainian men, since Afghan men have proven to be cowards.

Er europæiske terrorister på mission i USA den nye trend?

Skal USA forberede sig på terrorangreb fra europæiske borgere?

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Will we see more European terrorists in the United States in the future?

Perhaps the United States needs to get used to Islamist terrorists making the trip from Europe to the United States to commit their atrocities.

School shootings, gang violence, violent acts of right-wing extremists. The United States has plenty of problems within its own borders.

On Saturday, 44-year-old Englishman Malik Faisal Akram, disguised as a homeless man, was invited in for tea at a synagogue in Texas. Here, the man from Blackburn in England pulled a gun and took four hostages.

Akram was mentally disturbed, his brother claims. But aren´t all terrorists? Apparently, Akram was not diagnosed. Any family member can claim that the perpetrator was mentally ill. After all, this claim is more convenient than having a terrorist in your midst.

“It makes sense that European Islamists would go to the United States. America has for years been proclaimed to be the Islamists’ enemy number one.

Everyone who would even think of murdering innocent people is mentally challenged. I would argue that Islamists per definition, because of their oppressive ideological views, are mentally deranged.

Islamists and mental issues go hand in hand, one does not exclude the other. Quite the opposite. Let me be clear, before I am accused of something I do not stand for, that I’m talking about extreme Islamist attitudes, not about ordinary Muslims.

Everyone knows it’s easy to get acquire a gun in the United States.

Malik Faisal Akram told the US authorities that he was staying at a hotel in New York, but in reality he spent time in a hostel in Texas, where he also bought a handgun.

The man demanded that Pakistani Aafia Siddiqui was released. She is serving an 86-year sentence for attempted manslaughter of U.S. military personnel.

Akram was shot by the FBI, after an 11 hour standoff with authorities. During these 11 hours, he kept his hostages captive.

Here in the United States, both children and adults receive training in how to react if there is an active shooter. According to the rabbi of the synagogue, this training was what enabled him to divert Akram by throwing a chair at him and flee with the other hostages.

On the news in the United States, journalists and commentators did not hesitate calling the incident Islamic terrorism.

In America, we live peacefully with the few Muslims who live here.

Religion plays a big role in Americans’ personal lives, but is kept private, far from public settings. This works. Politics, not religion, is deviding people here.

It makes sense that European Islamists would go the the United States. America has for years been proclaimed to be the Islamists’ enemy number one.

It is easier to get into the United States via Europe than it is to get to the United States from many Middle Eastern countries. So maybe the terrorist attempt was just the beginning of a new trend where Europe is exporting their terrorists to the United States?