‘Islamist fanatics challenge European freedom of speech’

Charlie Hebdo has been targeted by “fanatics who don’t accept critics of their religion,” claims Soren Espersen, deputy speaker of the Danish parliament.

­The office of the French satirical newspaper was firebombed after it named Prophet Mohammed its editor-in-chief for the week.

The newspaper has come up with rather a provocative agenda, but Espersen, who is also an MP from the Danish People’s Party, believes that the really provocative thing was in fact “inviting thousands, millions of people from the Third World into Europe and creating new societies.”

The incident with the attack at the newspaper office was more about religious intolerance, Espersen believes.

“It is a question of the fanatic Islamists wanting to decide what can be said, what can be written and what can be drawn. In that way they are challenging our freedom of speech,” he said.

That is, the deputy Parliament speaker says, “one of the most cherished freedoms that we have at all,” so Europe “should not accept this by any chance.”

“Alright, it might be provocative what Charlie Hebdo did – in order to say: ‘No, we have a stand here, we will say what we like, we will laugh at what we like.’ I think there’s a lot of humor in what Charlie Hebdo [did] and it’s a shame that these Muslims cannot laugh,” Espersen notes.

In his view, what the people behind the attack really want is for Europe to keep quiet on the issue:

“They don’t want us to have critics over religion – but that is part of our system. When I went to university, I studied theology for two or three years, and the main thing there was critics: criticizing the Bible, criticizing the scriptures. That is not allowed in Islam.”

He adds that if the Islamist threats are accepted, it means “we have lost”.

“I think it was very courageous of Charlie Hebdo to have done this, and I hope that somebody else will carry on because we need to say to these people: ‘No. You are not the ones to decide.’”