Speech given by Lars Hedegaard to the Danish Free Press Society

25 February 2013

gatesofvienna.net 25 February 2013

“And So Therefore I Speak”

Lars Hedegaard is the chairman of Trykkefrihedsselskabet (The Danish Free Press Society) and the editor-in-chief of Dispatch International. Earlier this month a would-be assassin disguised as a postman attempted to kill Mr. Hedegaard outside his apartment in Copenhagen. Yesterday he appeared in public for the first time since the attempted assassination and spoke to a gathering at Trykkefrihedsselskabet in Copenhagen.

Many thanks to The Observer for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:


00:20 Thank you. 00:23 I have written down my speech and it will be published 00:27 at Trykkefrihedsselskabet website, sappho.dk. 00:33 I’ve done this because there are journalists present here today 00:37 and they don’t always fully understand what I’m saying. 00:49 I would also like to add that I have listened with great interest 00:54 to those politicians and opinion-makers who are here today 00:59 and I thank you sincerely for 01:04 supporting freedom of expression. 01:08 Your efforts help to keep the lights shining in a dark time. 01:14 Having said that, I would like to point out that if you have read what I‘ve written — 01:18 I have written several books and many articles — then you will see that I have never expressed 01:22 hatred towards any specific ethnic groups. 01:25 I do not hate Muslims, I differentiate between Muslims and the ideology of Islam. 01:30 I will not go into further detail, but this can be verified by buying my books, 01:34 or alternatively borrowing them from the library, and by reading my articles. 01:39 When I was informed that Trykkefrihedsselskabet had decided to organize 01:44 this event, there were a few from that organization who advised 01:48 me to show my softer side and exhibit more human emotions, 01:54 which they apparently believe that I possess. 02:00 Please don’t be as hard as you usually are, they said. 02:05 And I’ll be the first to admit that in the past three weeks I have experienced the 02:08 entire spectrum of emotions. 02:12 First, of course, the shock of discovering that the man I thought was a postman 02:16 turned out to be an armed man who wanted to put bullet in my head. 02:20 Then the joy of learning that so many political leaders 02:24 unequivocally condemned the assassination. And that so many newspapers did the same. 02:31 The day after the assassination attempt, I was visibly touched when I read the editorials in Politiken 02:35 and Ekstra Bladet — at least the first few paragraphs 02:41 where emotional words described the inalienable right to freedom of expression 02:45 and how wrong it was to try and kill me. 02:49 But I did not need very many Kleenexes to wipe my eyes. 02:54 It turned out that the newspaper editors used the assassination attempt to reiterate 02:58 to their readers what a miserable and racist creep I am. 03:05 And when I was done reading about my case, I almost came to the conclusion that 03:09 it would probably have been for the best of the country and 03:13 for the future of humanity if the gunman had had better aim. 03:19 So I was both pleased and proud to hear that one police officer said that the 03:23 assassination attempt could possibly be motivated by jealousy. 03:29 One could perhaps imagine that the approximately 25-year-old gunman’s wife 03:33 or one of his wives has a soft spot for me, 03:46 which then prompted the desperate husband to shoot his rival. 03:52 Almost everyone — friends and enemies alike — however, believe that the attack 03:56 was a result of something I’ve said or written, 04:00 and thus an attempt to silence me. 04:05 It is also a theory that I’m inclined to support. 04:08 Since the inception of Trykkefrihedsselskabet in late 2004, we have year in and year out 04:12 been accused of being xenophobic, racist, right-wing extremist 04:16 and certainly not interested in preserving freedom of expression. 04:20 The funny thing is that if one looks at the many guests that we have invited to 04:24 Copenhagen over the years at least half of them have 04:28 what we usually refer to as ‘different ethnic backgrounds’. 04:32 Individuals from Arab countries, Pakistan, India, China 04:36 Russia, etc. — we’ve even also invited Swedes… 04:44 But the media have with very few exceptions not been particularly interested in what has been said 04:48 and discussed at these meetings, which anyone can attend and where anyone can speak. 04:54 No one from Denmark Radio or the fine newspapers have bothered to come 04:58 and report on what our many interesting guests have had to say. 05:05 If someone from TFS on the other hand utters just 05:09 a single thoughtless remark 05:13 then they descend upon us like hawks. 05:17 Can’t you see what monsters we are and that our true intention is 05:21 to establish a fascist tyranny with lynching and gas chambers 05:24 and whatever else comes with it. 05:27 In the newspaper Politiken, I have been referred to as a habitual offender, 05:30 and the newspaper’s current cultural editor 05:33 demanded a couple of years ago on Dutch television that erroneous opinions, 05:36 i.e. opinions that are not shared by Politiken – should be banned 05:40 and that she would like to see me prosecuted, something 05:44 which the Danish state prosecutors have attempted with great zeal. 05:50 In this country one is able to without the slightest risk stand up and pronounce that of course 05:54 Sharia will be introduced with everything that it implies in terms of barbaric punishment and repression. 06:00 One can also, without anyone touching a single hair on one’s head, state that immoral women 06:04 must have stones thrown at their heads until they die, and that Muslims who 06:08 turn their back on Islam of course must be killed. 06:12 But if you say or write that this is what Islam is all about 06:19 then you are guaranteed to be accused of racism, 06:23 risk criminal prosecution, and — as we have just witnessed — attempted murder. 06:29 Those who hurl racism accusations against other people and demands that 06:33 they must be deprived of their freedom of expression and have their opinions banned 06:37 must surely feel very safe and secure. 06:40 They simply cannot imagine that one day it may 06:44 be their opinions that are banned, 06:48 that they are the ones who will be hauled to the court — and God forbid 06:52 that they are the ones who will one day open the door to a postman 06:56 who turns out to be a murderer. 07:00 They have nothing to fear from Trykkefrihedsselskabet, because we will at all times 07:04 defend our opponents’ right to freedom of expression. 07:12 But when we are already faced with a scenario where murder and death threats 07:16 have become part of the political struggle — as is the case with 07:20 Pia Kjærsgaard, Naser Khader, Kurt Westergaard and now me — 07:26 how can one then be so sure that the violence will always go in one particular direction? 07:30 How can we tell for sure that the bells, which today are tolling for the wicked, 07:34 won’t one day toll for those who perceive themselves as the good ones? 07:39 That’s why I’m saying: is it not better to start listening to what people 07:43 are actually trying to say, rather than stigmatizing them as outlaws 07:47 who can be treated accordingly? 07:50 Could it not be the case that those who in recent years have warned against the mass immigration 07:54 of people who cannot and will not integrate into our society 07:58 actually are deeply concerned about what is going to happen to Denmark and to our children? 08:04 Could it not be the case that those who warn against the threat of Islamization 08:08 are actually afraid of Islamization because they have seen what has happened 08:12 in places wherever Islam has become prominent? 08:16 That they are afraid of losing our most precious freedom, 08:20 namely the freedom of expression? 08:24 If it is lost, it will probably never be regained. 08:28 So therefore I ask questions, and I will continue to ask questions. 08:32 And so therefore I speak, and I will continue to speak. 08:35 Thank you. 08:41

For previous posts on the assassination attempt, see the Lars Hedegaard page.

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