"They rape their own children. You hear it all the time. Girls in Muslim families are raped by their uncles, their cousins, or their fathers.”
While one can certainly question the validity of such a statement, or the wisdom of making it, the Frederiksberg District Court ruled it does not constitute racism or hate speech – at least not in the case of Lars Hedegaard.
The court on Monday acquitted Hedegaard, president of the Danish Free Press Society, of charges of racism stemming from statements the historian and journalist made to a blogger in December 2009.
Although the court stated that it found Hedegaard’s comments to be insulting, the acquittal was handed down due to the fact that Hedegaard did not know that his controversial comments would be published.
Hedegaard had previously expressed regret over the statements, which were made during a 35-minute interview at a Christmas party with the author of the blog snaphanen.dk. However, he had maintained that what he said did not constitute racism under the Danish penal code.
Hedegaard released a statement following his acquittal.
“My detractors – the foes of free speech and the enablers of an Islamic ascendancy in the West – will claim that I was acquitted on a technicality,” the statement read. “That is absolutely true. However, the public prosecutor has been privy to the circumstances surrounding my case for a year – and yet he chose to prosecute me. Obviously in the hope that he could secure a conviction given the Islamophile sentiment among our ruling classes. My acquittal is therefore a major victory for free speech.”
Hedegaard’s Free Press Society believes that free speech is “being threatened, primarily by religious and ideological interests and international pressure groups,” and that Islam is the “most dangerous threat at the moment” to free expression.
During the trial, Hedegaard received support domestically – most famously from the Danish People’s Party’s Jesper Langballe, whose statements in support of Hedegaard earned the MP a 5,000 kroner fine for what another court said constituted racism – and from what Hedegaard called “freedom fighters around the world”.
According to Hedegaard’s statement, his acquittal “will encourage people all over the West and beyond to speak up”.