Lars Hedegaard Escapes Jihadist Assassination Attempt
Denmark's leading Islam critic survives life-and-death struggle with gun-wielding assailant.
When I arrived in Amsterdam last week for a brief visit, an excited acquaintance informed me of the day’s big news: the highly popular Queen Beatrix, who has been on the throne for more than three decades, had just announced her intention to abdicate in favor of her imperially bland son Willem-Alexander. The first thought that came to mind when I heard the tidings was Her Majesty’s disgraceful conduct after the 2004 jihadist butchering of Theo van Gogh. Refusing to attend the funeral of the accomplished author, journalist, and filmmaker, Beatrix instead rushed off to a Moroccan youth center to assure those present that she was their pal. According to Reuters, Beatrix didn’t want to leave the throne until she was sure “that anti-immigrant, euroskeptic politician Geert Wilders, of whom she disapproved, was in no danger of assuming real political influence….Wilders’ poor showing at the last election and loss of influence in politics, could well have contributed to her decision to abdicate.” Willem-Alexander, whom van Gogh once described as something of a royal dummy, is no Wilders fan either, sneering in 2007, apropos of the politician, that “Speech is silver, silence is golden.” (The dim-bulb prince appeared not to grasp that under the rules of the Netherlands’ constitutional monarchy, it’s his job, not that of an elected official like Wilders, to keep his mouth shut.)
Walking the streets of Amsterdam in recent days, I thought about the sudden, horrible way in which van Gogh had been struck down, shot and stabbed, on an ordinary November morning on one of those very streets. I thought about how many years it’s been since that day. And I thought about the fact that things on that front have been relatively silent lately: it’s been a while since the last high-profile killing, or attempted killing, of an Islam critic. I reflected about the fact that each of these events causes instant shock and consternation, a brief preoccupation on the part of many Europeans with the reality of the domestic Islamic threat, and is followed by a gradual forgetfulness and return to complacency about Islamization. And I found myself thinking that it was only a matter of time until the next such assassination attempt. Where would it be? Who would be the target?
No sooner had I returned home to Scandinavia that the news came. My longtime friend Lars Hedegaard, a fearless critic of Islam, founder of Denmark’s Free Press Society, and defendant in the most disgraceful trial in postwar Danish history, had just escaped being killed by a thug who came to the door of his home in Copenhagen pretending to be a mailman. The incident took place at about 11:00 on Tuesday morning. The would-be perpetrator was wearing a standard mailman’s uniform.
It was right out of Three Days of the Condor. Hedegaard opened the door and was handed a package by the guy, who then drew a pistol and shot at him. Miraculously, the gunman missed – just barely. While he fumbled with his weapon, trying to get off another shot, Lars acted fast, striking his assailant, who dropped the gun. Lars tried to shut the door, but the perpetrator stuck his foot in and managed to push it open again and to pick up his pistol. The two men struggled, and the goon finally took it on the lam. Afterwards, Lars told an interviewer that he was not scared but angry – angry to have been attacked in his own country, obviously for the offense of speaking his mind (and the truth). “If they think they can scare me, they’re thoroughly mistaken,” he said. The police, in their public alert on the case, have described the assailant as “a man around 25 with a foreign background.” (Interestingly, officials at the Copenhagen Zoo, into which two persons of interest were seen fleeing, told reporters that police officials, in describing the suspect to them, had actually used the word Pakistani.)
As with the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, journalists have taken the attempt to end Hedegaard’s life as an excellent occasion to smear the victim. A subhead that appeared both in an article in Aftenposten credited to Kjetil Hanssen and the Norwegian Telegrambyrå, and in an article in VG credited to Bjørn-Martin Nordby and Harald Berg Sævereid, refers to Lars as a “_krass_” critic of Islam – krass being a word that can mean outspoken, harsh, or (yes) crass. Both articles (which were curiously full of such similarities) described Lars as “head of the so-called Free Press Society, a controversial association” – the controversy, of course, being that many members of the Danish media and academic elite think that the press shouldn’t be so free when the topic is Islam. Both articles further noted that Lars had “traveled around with Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who created [or caused] riots when he drew the Prophet Muhammed as a dog.” Vilks, in other words, was responsible for riots against his work, and Lars – well, guilt by association, you see. Similarly, Politiken described Lars as “the controversial commentator.” And NRK radio chose to identify Lars by saying he’d been “fined several times” for criticizing Islam – when, in fact, a lower court had fined him once, in a decision that the Supreme Court later overturned.
Well. The good thing is that Lars Hedegaard lives, and has vowed to persist in his courageous efforts to resist the Islamization of Europe. The bad thing is that his Muslim enemies are also alive and well and as determined as ever to wreak their monstrous havoc – and that their abettors in the media and elsewhere have lost none of their shameful readiness to relativize jihad and tear down heroes.
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