Another Awesome Week for Free Speech


Since I am currently in Norway, where the media possesses infinite patience for the debate over causing "offense" to the religious, and considering that we will be publishing reader-submitted cartoons of Mohammad in solidarity with Matt Stone and Trey Parker next month, a few regional updates are perhaps worth noting.

Kurt Westergaard, the elderly Danish artists behind the infamous "bomb in the turban" cartoon, was forcibly retired from his job at Jyllands-Posten last week because he has been tagged as a "security risk." An understandable concern, considering Westergaard was attacked in his apartment earlier this year (He scrambled into a panic room; his attacker was shot by police), but still rather depressing. AFP reports:

"It is forced vacation but it looks a lot like I'm being retired," the 75-year-old cartoonist said, adding that he himself still had an "insatiable desire" to work.

In Sweden, the artist Lars Vilks, also under police protection for drawing a cartoon of Mohammad, was scheduled to give a speech on free expression at Jönköping University. And again, it is true that Vilks is a target and a "security risk"—a plot to kill him involving was unraveled last month in Ireland—but Vilks believes the cancellation was due to lobbying by "offended" parties. Google News only returns one English-language story on the lecture, from this site in Denmark:

Artist Lars Vilks was invited by Jönköping University to speak about freedom of speech. But the seminar was canceled for security reasons. "I've understood that Muslim students protested," says Lars Vilks. The politically independent Foreign Policy Association at Jönköping University was forced to cancel a lecture with controversial artist Lars Vilks.

Vilks, who's known in the Middle East for his cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed, was supposed to come to Jönköping on Thursday. But yesterday he was told that association canceled the lecture. Due to the security risk, the International Business School, the Culture Center and Hotel Victoria, all refused to offer their premises….

"Evidently somebody pressured the organizers and thinks that it will be xenophobic and racist. It's actually ironic that a seminar on freedom of speech should be censored," [said Vilks].

The wanted terrorist Mullah Krekar, living under police protection in Oslo, released an audiotape this week calling for the death of two Kurdish exiles living in Norway after they burned pages of the Koran that, they said, were used to justify Saddam Hussein's genocidal Anfal campaign against Iraqi Kurds.

"With this he's become a total infidel. Therefore it's completely legal to kill him, regardless of where he did this, whether the Koran was burned in Oslo in the infidel's home or in an Islamic home ruled by the Khalif. Both places he must be killed," it says in the audio clip.

The male voice, appearing with the profile name N. Krekar, then asks if there is someone brave enough to kill.

Much more forthcoming from Oslo, where I am attending the magnificent Oslo Freedom Forum.

And for those unaware, send all Everyone Draw Mohammad Day cartoons to mmoynihan at