Copenhagen, Part II

The ship stopped at Copenhagen to let off old passengers and take on new ones. We’re staying on for yet more travel, this time to North Sea ports, but we did take advantage of the changeover to spend another day in Copenhagen. What made it an exceptionally nice day is that we met up with old friends who live in the region.

Because they had seen it all, having visited Copenhagen frequently, and because we’d seen the tourist highlights at the start of our trip, we were happy just to toodle around town with them. We must have walked six or seven miles, just wandering through city streets.

The main highlight of this day was our visit to Christiana. Christiania was once a military base. Some time during the late 60s or early 70s, a band of hippies occupied the old base and essentially declared it a Republic of Hippie Freedom. The residents claim that they are a separate entity from Copenhagen, Denmark, and the EU. They steal utilities, including cable, electricity, and water, from the city of Copenhagen and boast about the fact that they are not slaves to capitalism. Drugs are legal. The smell of marijuana wafts through the air.

Christiana is quite picturesque, with large, artsy, hippie-style murals on every surface. It’s crowded with residents (the ones who look unwashed and, usually, old) and tourists (distinguished mainly by being clean). It would be a great place to take pictures. However, in one of those ironies that the residents themselves seem oblivious to, “free-spirited” Christiana is liberally festooned with signs posting rules, chief among which is “no photographs.”

I doubt there’s a commune in the world that hasn’t rather swiftly turned into a rules-run dictatorship. There’s something about “free-spirits” that inclines them to excessive bossiness when people fail to get with the free-spirit program.

Here’s something I’ve noticed in all the Baltic capital cities we visited — the town centers do not reflect the countries’ (alleged) demographic realities. Demographics say that these countries are failing to have children at a rate sufficient to maintain their populations — yet the city centers are crawling with children. Demographics also say that large parts of Europe, especially Northern Europe, are acquiring critical masses of immigrants, primarily from Muslim countries — yet I’ve seen fewer people in burqas than I usually do in Marin.

I’m not sure what this means. Either the statistical data about declining local populations and surging Muslim populations is wrong, or the central tourist areas are Potemkin villages that fail to reflect each countries’ changing demographic realities.

Here’s another unexpected thing — it’s hot! We’ve been told that the week before we arrived, the weather across Europe was dreadful, with lots of rain. We hit a heat wave.

I can’t say I’m thrilled. While touring with rain pouring down is inconvenient, Europe in a heat wave isn’t exactly my cup of tea either. I was looking forward to San Francisco temperatures, not Texas ones. Still, when we get back to the ship, there are cool showers and cold drinks, not to mention good ready-made food that I didn’t have to shop for or cook, and that I don’t have to clean up when we’re done. That’s pretty darn good in my books.

Tomorrow is Oslo, and I’m hoping for slightly cooler weather. Even if I don’t get my wish, I know it will be lovely. I’ll just resolutely ignore the Nobel stuff all over the place.

Plucky Danes and the cartoons that won’t go away

I don’t need to remind any of you of the Cartoon jihad rampage that Islamists went on a couple of years ago when a Danish paper dared to print cartoons of Muhammad, most innocuous, but some a little edgy. Actually, they weren’t edgy enough because, as you may also recall, everyone ignored them until a Danish imam took it upon himself to add in some truly obscene Muhammad cartoons, blame them on the Danes, and start the riots. (Apparently it isn’t blasphemy when Danish imam’s do this kind of thing, as long as they’re out to destroy the infidel. All’s fair in, not love, because they have no love, but war, war, war.)

Anyway, the whole thing is in the news because it turns out that, while two years may have passed, Islamists have long memories (witness their continued and active outrage over their expulsion from Spain more than 500 years ago). Some of them, to express that outrage, got together and decided to assassinate Kurt Westergaard, the artists behind the most satirically accurate cartoon — the one depicting Muhammad with a bomb in lieu of a turban. (It would have been just as good if it had pictured any generic Islamist, but it does make a greater point about the religion in this form). Here, see for yourself:

A funny thing is happening in Denmark in the wake of the news that police broke up the assassination ring — European newspapers are being brave:

Newspapers across Europe Wednesday reprinted the controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed that sparked worldwide protests two years ago.

The cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed provoked widespread outrage in the Muslim world two years ago.

The move came one day after Danish authorities arrested three people allegedly plotting a “terror-related assassination” of Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist behind the drawing.

Berlingske Tidende, was one of the newspapers involved in the republication by newspapers in Denmark. It said: “We are doing this to document what is at stake in this case, and to unambiguously back and support the freedom of speech that we as a newspaper always will defend,” in comments reported by The Associated Press. (Emphasis mine.)

Newspapers in Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands also republished the drawing Wednesday as part of their coverage of Tuesday’s arrests.

Perhaps this new bravery is because Europeans have begun to realize in the intervening two years since the last cartoon kerfuffle that radical Muslims don’t go away if you simply yield to their ever increasing demands::

CNN’s Paula Newton said the arrests reinforced growing fears in Europe that radical Islam was trying to suppress free speech.

“More and more Europeans feel that Islam is a threat to their way of life,” Newton said. A recent Gallup poll for the World Economic Forum showed a majority of Europeans believed relations between the West and the Muslim world were worsening. According to the poll this sentiment was strongest held among Danish.

Islamists are blackmailers. In the beginning, as the object of blackmail, it always seems easier to give in, whether the threat is humiliation or, as here, violence. However, that’s a deal with the Devil because the nature of a blackmailer is that he never goes away. He wants more and more and more and he increases his demands until you’re almost sucked dry or are actually dead. Its the rare blackmailer whose greed isn’t such that he can resist the temptation to kill the goose that is laying his golden eggs. For the Islamists there’s actually no downside to killing us Western geese. Whether we’re reduced to total subservience or totally destroyed, they get what they want.

Both Michelle Malkin and the Captain are sponsoring blogbursts to publish the above cartoon, especially since American newspapers, unlike their increasingly threatened European counterparts, are being very coy about the cartoons. It’s a great idea. Remember, as much as they’d like to kill us all, they can’t if we show a solidarity that utterly defeats their arms. Per Ben Franklin: “We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” So, go to it!

Check below the fold for a partial list of bloggers taking a stand:

[Read more...]

Danes struggle with the intersection between courts & terrorism

There’s much consternation in Denmark today after a jury found four men guilty under the country’s new anti-terrorism laws, and a reviewing panel of judges promptly overruled the verdict as to three of the men, based on insufficient evidence:

The panel of judges hearing Denmark’s first trial involving suspects charged under new strict anti-terror laws has overturned three of the four guilty verdicts handed down by the jury today.

The jury had found all four suspects in the Glostrup terror case guilty of being involved in the planning of a terrorist attack somewhere in Europe, but the judges overturned the verdict for three of the indicted, citing insufficient evidence.

The guilty verdict for the fourth suspect, 17 year-old Abdul Basit Abu-Lifa, was upheld.

The four men had been in custody since November 2005. Charges were filed against them after police and PET, the Danish domestic intelligence agency, found connections between them and two men found guilty in Sarajevo of planning a terror action in Europe.

Abu-Lifa reputedly had close contact with a Swedish national convicted in the Sarajevo case. The other person convicted was a Turkish-Dane.

Judges are obliged to overturn a jury’s decision when they find there is insufficient evidence to warrant a conviction.

In his final instructions to the jury yesterday, the presiding judge, Bent Østerborg, had indicated that the prosecution’s reliance on character witnesses failed to provide enough evidence to prove the suspects were involved in a planned attack. He informed the jury directly that the evidence against the case’s main suspect, Imad Ali Jaloud, was not sufficient to convict him. The 20-year-old was one of those released today.

It is now up to the state prosecutor’s office to decide if the decision will be appealed.

Knowing nothing about the facts of the case, I have no idea whether I’d agree with the judges or the jury on this one. However, I definitely agree with the politicians on this one (emphasis mine):

Politicians interviewed after the ruling were nearly all in agreement that dissension between the jury and judges in a case of such great importance was unsatisfactory.

‘Regardless of whether they were found guilty or not, it would have been best if everyone had been in agreement,’ said Karen Hækkerup, the Social Democratic judicial spokesperson. ‘This was a landmark case, but now it’s just mud. But as law makers we have to trust our legal system.’

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