A whole different level

The Guardian can do it, so why can’t the BBC?

One civilian has been killed and three police officers injured after armed men opened fire on a cafe in Copenhagen where a debate on Islam and free speech was being held.

The meeting was attended by Lars Vilks, the controversial Swedish artist who has faced death threats for caricaturing the prophet Muhammad. Also in attendance was François Zimeray, the French ambassador to Denmark.

That’s how you explain who Lars Vilks is without pretending he did something wrong and deserves to be pursued by theocrats who want to kill him. They could have left “controversial” out but at least they didn’t say he “sparked” or “provoked” or “set off” or “courted” anything.

“They fired on us from the outside. It was the same intention as [the 7 January attack on] Charlie Hebdo except they didn’t manage to get in,” Zimeray told AFP.

“Intuitively I would say there were at least 50 gunshots, and the police here are saying 200. Bullets went through the doors and everyone threw themselves to the floor,” the ambassador added.

“We managed to flee the room, and now we’re staying inside because it’s still dangerous. The attackers haven’t been caught and they could very well still be in the neighbourhood.”

Fabulous. Imagine the fun.

Niels Ivar Larsen, one of the speakers at the event, told Denmark’s TV2: “I heard someone firing with an automatic weapons and someone shouting. Police returned the fire and I hid behind the bar. I felt surreal, like in a movie.”

Helle Merete Brix, one of the meeting’s organisers, said: “I saw a masked man running past. I clearly consider this as an attack on Lars Vilks.”

Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, condemned what he called a “terrorist attack”.

Well it wasn’t a friendly greeting.

Danish reports said there were about 30 bullet holes in the window of the Krudttønden cafe where the meeting organised by Lars Vilks was being held.

The cafe in northern Copenhagen, known for its jazz concerts, was hosting an event titled “Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression” when the shots were fired.

The meeting was also being held to mark the anniversary of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie issued by Islamic fundamentalists after he wrote The Satanic Verses.

Ah yes, Valentine’s Day. Happy Fatwa Day to you too.

Vilks, 68, outraged many Muslims in 2007 after he depicted the prophet Muhammad’s head on the body of a dog.

Oh look, they do stick the target on him after all. You were doing so comparatively well, Graun, why mess it up now?

In 2010 Swedish newspapers reprinted the controversial cartoon after two Muslim men were arrested and subsequently charged in the Irish Republic in connection with an alleged plot to murder Vilks.

Since then he has received numerous death threats and has lived under constant police protection.

A hellish way to live.

The Lars Vilks committee gave its freedom prize to the Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, in October 2014 – three months before the terrorist attack on its Paris office.

Gerard Biard, the magazine’s editor-in chief, who received the prize in Copenhagen, survived the attack as he was in London on 7 January.

After the Charlie Hebdo attack, Vilks said that even fewer organisations were inviting him to give lectures over increased security concerns.

He also thought that Sweden’s SAPO security service, which deploys bodyguards to protect him, would step up the security around him. “This will create fear among people on a whole different level than we’re used to,” he said. “Charlie Hebdo was a small oasis. Not many dared do what they did.”

They’re getting what they want. Terrorism works. They’re making it harder and harder and harder for us to say anything they don’t like.


  1. says

    Islamic terrorism works because appeasing victimhood narratives, regardless of facts, is such a staple of the mainstream and left media. Other right-wing terrorism like neo-Nazis tends to backfire, because we do not indulge their justifications at all.

    Muslims, despite some reactionary social norms, have been coddled by self-serving (i.e. fishing for a block vote) European leftists in particular. The ‘progressive’ left here in the U.S. also indulges Muslims’ sense of victimhood constantly.

  2. says

    Welllll I’m not sure about that. Remember that standoff between the Feds and the heavily armed rancher and his friends? There was some indulgence there. Or maybe not so much indulgence as fear of another Waco.

    But I agree with your basic point, which is that many people see Islamists as more sympathetic than neo-Nazis.

  3. RJW says

    The Guardian is one of the few survivors of the Old Left media.

    @1 Katherine Woo,

    I agree with your comments about the “progressive left”, the attitude seems widespread in liberal democracies. The Left’s attitude to Muslims is often rather patronising, the assumption is that they simply respond to non-Muslims society’s prejudices and discrimination, i.e. it’s all ‘our’ fault. Of course the Muslim-as-victim concept is well established in the Left, however I’m not sure if Muslims themselves are necessarily claiming “victim” status, what many expect is the acknowledgement of superiority from Kuffar society.
    The probability is that some Muslims are following Mohammed’s example by propagating Islam through violence and terror, but we must not talk about that.

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