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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.

Read more at First Things

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

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen