Saving One Life At A Time
How Hans Erling Jensen is rescuing persecuted Christians and Yazidis held hostage by ISIS.
I met Hans Erling Jensen for dinner in Copenhagen this past summer. I knew him by reputation as one of Europe’s extraordinary Free Speech and anti-censorship stalwarts, one of a handful of brave Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, and Hollanders. As he says, his “closest friends are on Al-Qaeda’s and ISIS’s hit lists.”
Once, Jensen, 65, was a businessman. And then—he “saw the light” and began applying his economic savvy to certain political issues. He is a man of action. Once he analyzes a problem, he “does” something about it. He is funding an orphanage and school in Katmandu and is the International Director of the Hatune Foundation which has been rescuing Yazidi and Christian girls and women who have been captured by ISIS and is now focused on the plight of Christians trapped in camps in Turkey. Hans recently visited me in New York. Please join our conversation.
Question: When-and how–did you first get involved in the issue of Free Speech and the right to tell the truth, even about radical Islam?
Answer: I started to read about Islam back in the nineties. I stumbled across a book – translated into Danish by Lars Hedegaard – “Why I Am Not A Muslim” by Ibn Warraq. I slowly began to realize that the world had not yet seen the most disastrous “ism” that was yet to come. Then, 9⁄11 came like a thief in the night but still we thought it was something that would vanish like the Palestinian skyjackings back in the 1970s. Then came the terror attacks in Madrid and London followed by the Muhammed cartoon crisis in 2006.
I joined public debates on this issue. Denmark was seriously under siege in Muslim countries. Embassies and consulates were burned down, Danish merchandise was boycotted and thrown out of stores all over the Muslim world. Most of our allies tried to look the other way not to get involved.
Our prime minister did not give in. No apologies for the Muhammed cartoons. I and many other Scandinavians realized that freedom of speech was seriously under siege, and that the time had come to stand up for our birth-given freedom. I joined the Danish Free Press Society, established by Lars Hedegaard and others, and later the Counter Jihad movement.
Q: You mentioned that many close friends and associates have been targeted on Islamist terrorist hit lists. What can you tell me about this?
A: Over the last decade, I met many people who are speaking out against the ongoing Islamization, and who are criticizing the violent content in Islamic canonical texts. European communities are polarized – I never thought that would happen. We celebrated the fall of the Berlin wall. We never really understood that something worse would come.
Recently, I participated in a conference in Copenhagen. There were five Europeans and one American: French professor Robert Redeker; Kurt Westergaard, who drew the most famous Muhammed cartoon in 2005; Lars Vilks, the Swedish art professor that in solidarity with his colleague Westergaard, pictured Muhammed as a “roundabout dog” and was nearly murdered in a terror attack in February this year in Copenhagen; Lars Hedegaard, who founded the Free Print Society, and who was nearly assassinated in February 2013 for his critique of Islam; Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who has spoken up against Islam for years and made the film Submission.
These Europeans are all on the Al Qaeda death list or hunted by Islamists in other ways and are therefore forced to live under police protection 24/7/365! Considering that these heroes are my personal friends, I am angry that so few European establishment figures have the guts or the intelligence to speak up and tell the world the truth.
Q: I want to ask you about one of your other very important projects. You have said that Christians from Syria and Iraq have landed in the most wretched of refugee camps in Turkey. All their money and possessions have been taken. They are trapped in an unfriendly country. The UN has just reduced the amount of money they are entitled to receive. They cannot work and they have access to limited medical care. What is needed here? What are you doing to help?
A: Those who are stuck in the camps need everything and we help them with food, clothes, spiritual help, and medicine. We, that is the Hatune Foundation, are among other things trying to get a mobile clinic up and running so that we can provide a broader spectrum of medical help for the most needy, especially those in Northern Iraq.
Q: How has this work affected your personal and family life? How have your friends and former friends responded to your political positions?
A: Over the last few decades Europe has been polarized in an ugly way. Politics have destroyed families and transformed friends into foes in a way that I never seen before. I have dealt with my part of it. I have lost friends, but fortunately I have gained a lot of new friends and contacts. I have found people who understand that if we do not fight for our values now, then we are going to lose our freedom very soon. It is strange: The politically correct people despise me for my critiques of Islam and at the same time ignore the other things I am doing to help and rescue the victims of Islam. My wife is a part of what we are doing. I do not think I could have kept it up if we were not together in it.
Q: How has the most recent flood of immigrants affected your own neighborhood and the neighborhoods of friends?
A: I live in a village 50 miles from Malmö. Personally, I avoid going to Malmö if I can. Until now, we have had few refugee problems in our municipality. Now, at least 1000 Muslim immigrants a day are crossing the borders into Sweden. Immigration authorities predict that between 150,000 to 200,000 immigrants might come this year. Things are going to change rapidly. Just before I left for New York I heard that a private refugee home is going to be established across the street from where I live.
The majority of the people crossing the border do not have sufficient papers, if any. I feel very concerned about having those types of refugees as neighbors. Although they lack identification, they all are equipped with the latest smartphones. I do not want to think about what could happen if someone starts to research who their neighbors are, and I pop up! The internet is full of what I am doing and what I have done – criticizing Islam and helping their enemies.
The first thing I have to do when I come home is to contact the border police and claim that a refugee home in my neighborhood would jeopardize my life and that of my wife, if the authorities cannot guarantee that only Christians or Yazidis are allowed there. And how could they? Christians and Yazidies are not coming to Sweden, they cannot afford to.
Q: What kind of resistance, if any, do you envision Sweden and Norway–perhaps all Scandinavia–as capable of mounting?
A: As it is now? Nothing! A low intensive civil war has been going on for years in Sweden. “Carbecues” occur in the no-go areas every single night; there are more than 60 of those in Sweden today. Schools are burning nearly every day. Hand grenades are thrown in the streets in the gang wars between different migrant groups; everybody can buy an AK47 if they really want and so on. The situation here is escalating and disastrous. Even some political leaders are shaken and are talking about tent-camps. If this continues, it will end with Sweden declaring martial law.
One of the things that worries me is that civilians people don’t see it. In Sweden we are getting to the point where the institutions are collapsing, as Lars Hedegaard predicted in a famous speech in Brussel 2007. Civilians have not yet started to take the law into their own hands, but they will be forced to and that time is not far away – I believe it is right around the corner.
Q: This is a very negative view of the future isn’t it? So how do you keep on keeping on, helping the neediest in the world without being affected by your own prediction about a coming collapse?
A: Some years ago I made a choice. I could just give in and turn my back and accept my powerlessness. Then I realized that if I could help just one human being to have a better life, if I could rescue one needy person, then it would be worth the struggle. Now, my work helping Nepalese, and persecuted Christians, and Yazidis, gives me an energy that I never had before. Meeting the people that I have had a part in helping, talking with them and looking into their eyes gives me, and the people I work with an enormous power to continue, to expand our efforts to help and give relief.
I was born in a safe place, Denmark. I live in a safe place with my family. The work I am doing now is a way to pay back for my good fortune. It is my duty to do my best to afford others the same possibilities. So, if more people could learn to look at the world in the same way: to see that helping one individual at a time really matters; if we accept the fact that one man alone cannot save the whole world – but understand that together, we can save many others who would never have had a chance without our efforts.