Denmark Puts a Man on Trial for Blasphemy

March 10 2017

For the first time in decades, a Danish prosecutor—with the approval of the country’s attorney general—has brought a blasphemy charge, against a man who made a video recording of himself burning a Quran in his backyard and posted it to Facebook. Mark Movsesian writes:

For a European government to bring a blasphemy prosecution in 2017 . . . is incongruous, to say the least. And Denmark is one of the least religious places on the planet. True, it has a state church, to which the large majority of Danes belong. But that is mostly a formal thing. Religious belief and observance are quite low. . . . And Danish authorities have turned a blind eye to blasphemy in the past. In 1997, for example, someone burned a copy of the Bible on a news broadcast on state television. The government did not file charges.

And here’s [the great] irony: the prosecution of the Quran burner is supported by Denmark’s progressive, left-wing Social Democrats, whom one might have expected to take a hard line on secularism and a dim view of blasphemy laws. . . .

What explains these ironies? . . . Perhaps [the prosecutor] worries that public mockery of Muslim beliefs could create an atmosphere conducive to acts of intimidation and violence against Muslim believers. . . . But if he is concerned about this video’s potential to create a climate of intimidation against Danish Muslims, he could have brought a hate-speech charge, which he declined to do.

Or perhaps the authorities worry that this incident will cause a violent backlash from some Muslims around the world, as occurred in 2006 during the infamous Prophet Muhammad cartoon controversy, when mobs attacked Danish embassies in the Mideast. . . . But this particular Quran burning seems to have gone unnoticed; no one was complaining. In fact, the prosecution itself seems likely to draw attention to the incident and spark protests.

Something very puzzling is going on here. . . . [I]t’s worth asking . . . why, in a secular, progressive, enlightened society like 21st-century Denmark, it’s legal to burn a Bible, but not to burn a Quran.

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More about: Danish Cartoons, Denmark, European Islam, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Islam, Politics & Current Affairs

Palestinian Leaders Fight Economic Growth

Jan. 15 2019

This month, a new shopping mall opened in northeastern Jerusalem, easily accessible to most of the city’s Arab residents. Rami Levy, the supermarket magnate who owns the mall, already employs some 2,000 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians at his other stores, and the mall will no doubt bring more jobs to Arab Jerusalemites. But the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are railing against it, and one newspaper calls its opening “an economic catastrophe [nakba].” Bassam Tawil writes:

For [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah officials . . . the image of Palestinians and Jews working in harmony is loathsome. . . . Instead of welcoming the inauguration of the shopping mall for providing job opportunities to dozens of Palestinians and lower prices [to consumers], Fatah officials are taking about an Israeli plan to “undermine” the Palestinian economy. . . . The hundreds of Palestinians who flooded the new mall on its first day, however, seem to disagree with the grim picture painted by [these officials]. . . .

The campaign of incitement against Levy’s shopping mall began several months ago, as it was being built, and has continued until today. Now that the campaign has failed to prevent the opening of the mall, Fatah and its followers have turned to outright threats and violence. The threats are being directed toward Palestinian shoppers and Palestinian merchants who rented space in the new mall. On the day the mall was opened, Palestinians threw a number of firebombs at the compound, [which] could have injured or killed Palestinians. The [bomb-throwers], who are believed to be affiliated with Fatah, would rather see their own people dead than having fun or buying attractively-priced products at an Israeli mall.

By spearheading this campaign of incitement and intimidation, Abbas’s Fatah is again showing its true colors. How is it possible to imagine that Abbas or any of his Fatah lieutenants would ever make peace with Israel when they cannot even tolerate the idea of Palestinians and Jews working together for a simple common good? If a Palestinian who buys Israeli milk is a traitor in the eyes of Fatah, it is not difficult to imagine the fate of any Palestinian who would dare to discuss compromise with Israel.

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More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy