“Fate of freedom of speech in Europe is being determined now” – Danish activist
31 Jan, 2011 08:04
Lars Hedegaard, President of the Danish Free Press Society, who has been on trial in Denmark over his criticism of Islam, has now been acquitted. The free speech activist spoke with RT about his views on immigration, Islam and freedom of speech.
Lars Hedegaard says the society he heads is not against immigration as such – they simply insist on their right to describe problems associated with immigration.He says his acquittal would send a message to the general public that they can speak freely about matters which concern them.“On the other hand, a conviction will put a damp on the willingness of people to speak out, and I fear that this is the reason behind this court case,” Hedegaard said. “The public prosecutors want to close down criticism of failed multicultural policies that is so evident to most people.”Hedegaard says that unfortunately, most of the Danish press is “on the side of enemies of freedom.””You have to remember that nine out of ten journalists in the country come out of the same school, have the same ideology. Journalists in my county are also very well paid – probably better paid than for example the university professors. It’s a very lucrative job,” he says. “Being a journalist in this country is not really a profession – it is more a political persuasion and an ideology. We have very few journalists and very few mainstream media who would really take on the fight for free speech.”Meanwhile, the freedom of speech is being curtailed because the ruling class’s policies have utterly failed, Hedegaard says. “For 30 to 40 years we have been told by our leaders and practically all politicians and political parties that unlimited immigration is really a good thing for the country, that it is a good thing for Denmark to have for example a sizeable minority of Muslims in the country,” he says. “But most of these Muslim immigrants have refused to integrate into our society and become part of us.”“We have constantly been told that this is an enrichment of the country. [They think] problems do not really exist. Problems only exist to the extent that people say there is a problem. So in other words, they want to silence critics because they think – or claim at least – that if they could shut up people like me, the problems would go away,” he says.The activist maintains that Muslim immigrants are a problem because they refuse to integrate into the Danish society.“Most people integrate wonderfully in this country. We have no problems with Russians or, say, people from Vietnam, or from China, or from India, or from Sri Lanka. Most of these people are indeed an enrichment to my country. And there are other people who are not,” Hedegaard says.“I am a free speech advocate,” he says. “I do not have the solutions to this problem created by our politicians. I only say that a prerequisite for even being able to solve the problem is that we protect the free speech because without it there is no chance that we could ever solve any problems in this country.”