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Justice minister: No harder sentences for attacks on artists

The justice minister rules out opposition's call for more severe punishments when artists are threatened or attacked


The number of artists being threatened is too low to make revisions in the legislation, Justice Minister Karen Hækkerup said today (Photo: Scanpix)

December 19, 2013
15:15

by AJ


Only a handful of artists are being threatened for using their freedom of speech, Justice Minister Karen Hækkerup (S) stated today in an open parliamentary council.

"It's no more than a handful of people who the police estimate are receiving threats because of what they say, but that is of course a handful too many," Hækkerup said, according to Politiken newspaper.

The justice minister was called to council in the wake of the violent assault of the poet and Islam critic Yahya Hassan in the Copenhagen Central Station in November. The attacker shouted that Hassan was an infidel and should die.

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As opposition parties Dansk Folkeparti and Liberal Alliance call for more severe sentences and want residents with foreign backgrounds to be deported if they attack or threaten artists, the justice minister sees no reason to change current legislation. 

"The government has no intentions of that," she said. "I think the current legislation already allows for some reasonably hefty penalties."

DF: More than a handful
The justice minister's estimate of the problem's scale was met with scepticism by Peter Skaarup of Dansk Folkeparti.

"I think I can count more than a handful who are being threatened," Skaarup said.

The young poet Hassan also received threats on Facebook for his controversial eponymous collection of poems, in which he criticises his parent's generation and the Danish Muslim community.

The Iranian-born artist Firoozeh Bazrafkan also received countless death threats because of her Islam-critical paintings and public statements.

READ MORE: Artist convicted of racism speaks out

But Hækkerup disagreed that it is primarily when artists level critique against the religion of Islam that they end up being threatened.

"To think that threats can be isolated and only come from the religious right-wing or from Islam is wrong," the justice minister said.



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