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Legendary comedian NRK Trond Kirkvage (1946-2007) was one of his private exercises in joking with priests and other authorities. Especially when the movie was shown at full speed it looked funny. But when priest collars were used in ring games or when the cross was turned upside down and used as a jumping stick, reactions came. They rarely got further than the Broadcasting Board. In Denmark, religious criticism can now reach the courtroom directly.
After a few years without punishment for blasphemy, the Danes made a 180-degree turn. The government has never hidden that the country’s security and consideration of Muslim countries were behind this, but Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and her colleagues have remained conspicuously silent in this rather sad debate.
It’s not a long one And the good process behind drafting the new penal text. It was created over a few hectic months. The result was that those who deliberately contributed to the “inappropriate treatment” of a text of great religious importance to a recognized religious sect could be punished with imprisonment for up to two years. Two years in prison! To destroy a book! Objects that “appear” to be such a book will also be affected. Fortunately, the Danes were able to remove the text of the proposal stating that things in general should be spared so-called satire, but otherwise this represents a severe setback for freedom of expression in Scandinavia.
Therefore, this ruling is called in the colloquial language “the law of the Qur’an.” It is not accidental, but it also affects the desecration of the Bible, for example. Tearing or damaging writings would be as forbidden as setting them on fire. The Danish priest asks in A Discussion article in Jyllands-Posten On whether to now ban the cutting of Christmas angels from old recycled Bibles, as it has traditionally done with the Confirms and their children. In any case, it would be a stretch to plan to copy the Qur’an on a grater, as an Iranian exile did in Copenhagen this summer.
This shows Practical problems of the ban. Opponents of the law also began burning Bibles in public places in Denmark. But no one can know whether this is what they really burned from the Bibles or whether this is something they say as a provocation. The books have been destroyed.
Worse than the purely practical, we are dealing with a giant step backwards in terms of freedom of expression. The ability to mock Jesus, bully Muhammad, or criticize or destroy the scriptures that cultivate these symbols should be a core value of an open society. Denmark has failed, and this shows how fragile this right is. It is a signal to authoritarian states that if threatened enough, liberal states governed by the rule of law will throw their hands in the air. There is also no difference between criticizing religion or hate speech against individuals because of their religion. There is a big difference here.
There’s a reason As a reminder, Norway lifted the ban on rowing only in 2015, that is, after 16 years The first committee for freedom of expression I suggest this. In 2019, the Norwegian Police Directorate issued a secret order to stop the burning of the Qur’an in connection with some announced demonstrations in Kristiansand. Most people are fundamentally in favor of freedom of expression, but it’s better not when it hurts someone. freedom of expression Monitoring the Freedom of Expression Project From 2021 shows that only 35 percent of the population agreed with the claim that speech that mocks religion should be allowed. 45% objected to this.
Here it would be interesting to know more about whether there is a desire to limit freedom of expression or fear of reactions, which makes people reticent. However, this is another example that freedom of expression is also fragile in our country.
Admittedly, that was 111 years ago The last time someone was convicted of blasphemy in this country was 90 years after Arnulf Overland was tried, and later acquitted, for his “Christianity – The Tenth Scourge of the Earth” lecture. However, the Overland case is the best example of how statements outside the comfort zone quickly become problematic. This opens the way to the misunderstood pragmatism that the Danes now practice.
The change in the law in Denmark and the ongoing debate about it in Sweden show that religious criticism has narrow conditions. Religious freedom must mean the full right to criticize and abuse both Jesus, Muhammad, the clergy and other authorities, and this must also include using the cross as a starting point or what is defined as blasphemy.
Former culture editor In Jyllands-Posten, Fleming Rose introduced the word offensive fundamentalism. It consists in the fact that there must be a private right that should not be violated, and that verbal violations create victims in the same way as criminal acts. Rose is the one behind it Publishing drawings of Muhammad In 2005. It put him in a state of constant threat and sent Denmark into a diplomatic crisis. At that time they chose to stand in the fight.
And now they, and perhaps we, are entering a field where criticism, insight and discussion must be limited to the right taste and the right humour. Ultimately, much more than religious communities will demand the right to be left alone by ordinary social criticism and ridicule. If offensive fundamentalism takes over, there will be little “Merry Christmas” and much “Holy Christmas.”
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