Civil Liberties

Free Speech Victory in Denmark; Fatwa Issued


A Danish Muslim group lost its libel case against Pia Kjaersgaard, leader of the far-right Danish People's Party. Kjaersgaard branded a group of local Muslims as seditious after they travelled to the Middle East to denounce Jyllands-Posten's publication of the Mohammad cartoons. Reuters reports:

A court ruled that Pia Kjaersgaard, leader of the Danish People's Party (DPP), did not libel the Islamic Faith Community when she accused some of its members of treason for travelling to the Middle East to publicise a Danish newspaper's publication of the drawings, which caused a worldwide uproar in 2006.

The court said the term "treason" was not libellous because it was used extensively in public debate. It ordered the plaintiffs, a loose network of Danish Muslim organisations which says it represents 50,000 members, to pay Kjaersgaard 40,000 Danish crowns ($7,400) in costs.

Crackpot Islamic Faith Community spokesman Kasem Ahmad was, not surprisingly, slightly peeved by the verdict, and quickly shifted into blackmail mode:

"We are very disappointed with the verdict and are considering an appeal," said Kasem Ahmad, a spokesman for the Muslim group. He added that the group would issue a fatwa, or religious edict, against Jyllands-Posten if it did not receive an apology from the paper.

"It's too early to say any details of the fatwa," Ahmad said. "The fatwa is the last step and will also satisfy Muslims in the Middle East."

A victory for free speech in Denmark, though it should be noted that DPP has a history of xenophobia and racism unrivaled in Western Europe amongst parties of its size (though Front National is running a close second).

I suppose it doesn't help that the party's point-man on EU issues is named Morton Messerschmidt.

(Correction: The headline says Ahmed decreed a fatwa on J-P. Rest easy Danish H&R readers, it is merely a fatwa threat.