Speech given by Lars Hedegaard to the Danish Free Press Society
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.
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.
For previous posts on the assassination attempt, see the Lars Hedegaard page.